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2018


4 September 2018

A friend asked me about my memorial service:

It was poignant. Everyone was in tears. Grandma fainted and her pet possum, Possible, pounced into the grave and proceeded to prance and pirouette upon the coffin like a pretty Portuguese princess. It was priceless and perfect. Afterwards we ate pizza pies with pepperoni and peppers while Pa played piano on the patio. Everything was perfectly in place and perhaps prompted people to ponder the possibilities of their own impermanence. 


2 September 2018


What is buried in my grave.



Conjuring Lazarus.



Buried with the ghosts of seven dogs and one cat.



Graveside memorial.



Wheelbarrow Funeral Procession, R.I.P. Scot Casey.



29 August 2018


Standing under the trees
Dogs digging to dry dirt
Rain washing the world sober


***



I want to write a fishing guide, but as a thinking guide. The rod is logic, the line is imagination, the hook is the essential question ¿, the bait is desire, the fish are words... ha ha I’m working it out. You catch words, sentence them in a net, then cut the bones out of them and fry em up in butter. Sharing a big ole word with someone, picking out the bones, is one of the most satisfying experiences in the world. 


28 August 2018

There’s a tiger I’ve been sneaking up on for a time. I merely wish to hold his tail in my hand, to ever so slightly curl my fingers around it. It has taken a while to regain his trust, to move this close to him. His tail has been impatient, swiping around, thwapping the earth, betraying his irritation at me presence. 

I sleep beside this tiger. I dream beside this tiger. We were once great friends. Then, something happened as it always does with me and friends and he came to hate me. 

But this morning I woke up with his tail in my hand, resting there. I looked at his face, his eyes gazed off into an inner far away. My heart began to pound loud as a drum. His right ear twitched back. 

I curled my fingers around the tail with the slightest of pressure. He allowed me to hold him. Not tightly, but in the way a child would hold a parent’s finger in their small hand. 

I want to laugh, but I don’t even smile. I know it would bother him. So I’m just sitting here, holding on, as if were on a roller coaster climbing clack clack clack up and up and up, waiting for that vertiginous moment where I am poised to fall, writing as steadily as I can. 

It is as if his voice is now in my head and I am merely listening and writing it down as legibly as I can, one hand with the tiger’s tail, one hand with the pen. At times, this pen seems more like a knife and my paper feels more like skin and the words shimmer red and flow. It doesn’t matter. 

And as long as I can hold on to this tail, here in these luminous moments before it all falls, before his hatred of me returns, before he whips his tail away and lets go that horrible roar, with the mouth full of terrible teeth flashing in my face, until I run away again to the safety of my cage, as long as he will allow me to write down the words whispered into my enchanted brain, I will stay, barely breathing, but barely able to contain my joy. 

I’ve got the tiger by the tail! And the language lives in me again and loves me again. Ah, sweet and blessed laughing bone trembling with Holy Fire! I’ve missed you! I’ve missed me! Life is beautiful and all has been redeemed! Amen!





26 August 2018

The peak of hilarity was reached with me telling a group of drunk friends about William Empson’s 7 Types of Ambiguity, related to the host of interpretations that gather around the word, “used.” 

I have a persistent anxiety over “getting used” to the world - as in desensitized. In seventh grade, when someone “got used,” it meant someone had just been going out with them to get sex. But then a wrench “is used” to remove a nut from a bolt. 

Application: I do not want to ever get used to you. And I will never think you just used me. But I hope we can use our relationship to help each other grow. 

The soiled and tired organon of language, often ruminated upon like a cud that has lost all flavor, when cut into and unfolded is as revitalizing as a freshly opened rose - or a lover’s soft legs. This innermost penetralium of words as mysterious as the subatomic bestiary of the atom. 

***

Please forgive my language here. Know that I am aware of my over saturated ego. For a long time - and the last year especially - I’ve been struggling with it - an agony. I made a public sort of confession that I was striving to take off the Scot Casey suit. 

Here in this town, a fresh clean Scot Casey suit is held out for me by a great number of well-intentioned friends. That I am well-liked, that I make myself like-abie, are not the egotistical issues. That others want to see me as being something I’m not is. That I play up the “Myth of Scot Casey” is even worse. Even to write to you like this unsettles me. 

Someday, I’ll gain enough wisdom to be quiet, to not feed the ego and the egotistical projections of others. 

Thing is: I’m not seeking solitude because I do not enjoy the friendships and warmth of human society; I’m seeking solitude because I enjoy it too much. I wish I were strong enough to remain around family and friends and be able to express the essential aspects of my being. But I am not that kind of strong. I aspire to gain that strength of character, but thee is a lot of work to do before then. 

It’s a great privilege and honor to be respected and admired by any community. I am grateful. Deeply so. But what no one but you knows is how sad it makes me to put on this bright and shining lie of a Scot Casey suit. I know the obvious: Just don’t put it on. Be yourself. And I mostly am. 

But every so often, after a night a drinking usually, I wake up hung over and wearing Scot Casey’s old clothes, zipped and buttoned tight as a second skin, and as I try to remember what happened, I realize the Mr Hyde in me took over and drunkenly danced before a laughing crowd. 

***

That’s the sword of a question hanging over my head. Can I live the life I envision? 

I know the suit is a trope, a mnemonic of sorts. A few times, I’ve gotten close to taking it entirely off. It was horrible, an Alzheimer’s blankness. A terrible nirvana that I was not psychologically prepared for. There’s much about me that I love, that I’ve worked hard for years to shape and train. But I also know there’s something more, this deeper self, the Daemon that whispers all the good words in the best into my ear. 


25 August 2018

A Poem for a Saturday 

“You’re gonna leave me with the crazy woman crying in the kitchen, aren’t you?”

She’s in the grocery store, 
her sanctuary, 
the only place she still 
seems sane and happy. 

I let her wander. 
She disappears 
at the end of the aisle. 
I follow. 

She’s next to the ice cream, pants down, peeing on the floor. 
There’s a woman and her young son staring. 

Mom? I say. 
I didn’t know what to do, 
she says. 
I help her up. 

Tell the cashier up front 
there’s a spill 
on the floor 
in the ice cream aisle.


24 August 2018

The sea is my favorite plenty. Better than space and dust. I’m busy as a solitary bee in an abandoned hive looking for the last flower left in the Waste Land. 


22 August 2018



Been sleeping in my car on Cornwall while trains rumble nearby and people talk loudly outside my open car window. Smoke is making me tired. 

I’m funny about that photo. I know it’s cute. But for me, I see a haunted little boy. Searching in my four year old psyche for the traces of a recently absented father. Hiding behind a mask. Facing the world with my ineffectual toy weapons. The only sanctuary is in my imaginary, pretend world. It really does explain everything. 

***

Hiding true face behind a mask.

Check.

Prepared to fight with the “toy weapons” of childhood.

Check.

Prefer the fantastical sanctuary of my imagination to the reliable security of the ordinary world.

Check.

Amusing shoes.

Check.

***

I know I’m not alone. We are all suffering. The world is on fire. It’s the best we can do to keep throwing water on those we love. I begrudge no one for water reserved for their own kin. If I’ve learned anything, I know the difference between what’s meant for me and what I do not deserve. I grieved for my parents years ago when they first began to lose their minds. This recent ceremony was a final closure. The living evolving word of memory becomes un-editable canon in the memory. If there’s any loss, it’s in that. Y’all are right here with me. I might have a few years on you, but after a time, there’s an increasing parity with age: between 50 and 56 this seems nothing. I spend a lot of energy on trying to be graceful towards others whom time has not treated as kindly as myself. But in the end, I’ve not enough time left to be that considerate. Excepting family and friends. Know if I can offer any light during dark times, I am more than ready to light myself on fire. 

I’ve got a tiger or a dragon my the tail. All I need is a sanctuary, shelter, woods to cut path through, paper and pen, a means to sustain myself and fucking time. I’ve got a tale to tell like the Ancient Mariner. 

***

I think everyone wants to believe it’s going to get better. Things are so bad, it’s hard to believe anything else. But what if this is as good as it gets for most? They advertise the dream, you sell your soul for 40 years. Then you retire. Done. The dream was only a distraction from suffering. 

***

Re-tuning. I need a re-tuning. Here in this candy land town, I feel dissonant. Long live the poets and dreamers, the vagabonds and believers, the beautiful ones who continue to carry the light through the darkness of this world.

***

My sense is more of coming into an already existing space and community and doing what I can to help. It’s as if I was exhausted from swimming and found a raft full of good people and we all worked to paddle the raft towards the safety of land. Then, as soon as we get everyone off the raft and into land, I jump back on the raft and paddle away alone.

Perhaps. I’m hard on myself for a great number of good reasons. I always know I could do better by other people. In being present for them or, maybe more important, not being there for them.

In the economics of love, which is not based upon the myth of scarcity, there is plenty. I believe this. And only in that oceanic plenitude, do I have any sense of absolution. Love, true love, and love only can redeem me. 


21 August 2018

On my part, feel as if I'm treading water post-titanic, seeing friends and family I've not seen in a while, making the rounds. But with a sense of detachment. I've got a small raft, I'll paddle away. Not interested in saving anyone. Talking with many about the book, selling others on the vision, perfecting the elevator pitch, has whittled the inessential away from the bone of the narrative. 

What's the basic story?

A man journeys towards a place where he can find enlightenment.

This man is distracted from his journey, undergoes a series of trails and tribulations, resumes his path towards enlightenment.

Many years later, this man knows he is dying. He asks a friend to accompany him to the place where he found enlightenment and attend his death.

After his death, the friend burns the man's flesh away from his bones, scrapes the bones clean, gathers them up and places the in a sacred place specified by the man.

The friend returns to the world, haunted by his experiences. 

After a few years, he decided to write the biography of the man.



17 August 2018



I didn’t realize how spiritually exhausted I was from the ceremony of ashes for my parents. It seems as I've been carrying the weight of their memories for a long time - along with my resentment, guilt and sense of failure as a son. Like most, I buried all of this deep. Yesterday and today, it was all uncovered. I felt mentally waterlogged, ready to sink. I made myself go to the gym - if only to go through the motions. It was while exercising that my body reminded my soul that I was free - perhaps now more free than ever before. 

One of the worst aspects of our lives is how desperately at times we create prisons of the mind, heart and soul when we are absolutely free. There is anxiety in living with total freedom. It was a painful lesson to learn that if my love is conditional (for myself and for others), then it is not based on freedom - and is inauthentic , neurotic and unhealthy. Conditional love is based on attachment. I hold on because I am scared and insecure. I’ve been holding on to my memories of my mother and father, evaluating my self under their imagined gaze, for my entire life. Now is the time to let them go, to still love them - all the Dead and the Living - and learn to hold without effort, to embrace without anxiety, to love my self and others without conditions, without expectation or insecurity. I’m sick to death of retreating into self-created prisons, of being addicted to the sound of the key in the lock, of being afraid of living in total freedom. It’s in the struggle to be free, to escape, that we learn our strength and our true minds, unfettered, unlocked and unconditioned. 

Pavlov's Dog was fed meat while a bell rang. And it didn't take long for the dog to become "conditioned" to salivate when the bell rang and he was given no meat. 

My entire self - the collection of associations and memories known as Scot Casey - is like Pavlov's Dog. I've been taught / conditioned to salivate / love / laugh / cry / hate for an entire symphony of bells and whistles, social cues and human reflexes. Most troubling for me has been to hope, to believe in future, in the absence of God. My own inner dog was conditioned to salivate  without ever having tasted god's flesh, with just the idea of god's flesh. Much of my life has been in search of this mystical meat. I keep hearing the bell, ringing and ringing in my head. My mouth is dripping and I'm vomiting on my own saliva. And if I can just get enough solitude and sanctuary, I believe I now can conjure up the mystical god-meat I've been so hungry for.

I've just got to stand outside the prison cell, lock the door on the outside and throw the keys into the empty cage - out of my reach - forever cutting off that means of escape or retreat. 


11 August 2018

In Tempest, Flute and Oz, Frederick Turner relocates cultural relevance away from masculine, solitary ur-hero texts such as Hamlet, Faust and the Odyssey to feminine and communal works such as the Tempest, Magic Flute and the Wizard of Oz. I often consider this in relation to why particular poems abide or attain renewed relevance, and are continually name-checked in popular culture, such as The Second Coming. Obviously, the lines you quoted are haunting with regard to current politics. They are vivid warning: beware passionate intensity; watch for lack of conviction. “The darkness drop again but now I know... “ and I wonder what will be the shape of things to come, what new horror will be “vexed to nightmare”. I wonder also how many who quote the final lines realize the identity of the Rough Beast as the One who was born in Bethlehem? 


7 August 2018

I think beyond the loaded trap, everything else is a MacGuffin - little machines / vignettes to move the characters into position. In my poetic / philosophical modes, I often keep in mind the Hitchcockian difference between surprise and suspense: the murderer jumping out of the closet versus the bomb ticking under the table. Surprise is a one trick pony. Suspense is the audience seeing what the actors cannot. The bomb ticks, actors take bathroom breaks, move away from the table, the mother changes the baby on the table. A distant ticking...


5 August 2018



Announcement:

A few concerns have been brought to my attention by friends and advisors. 

I wish to hereby claim that my remote and private “organic vegetable and flower garden” requires no permits from the county. Over-enthusiastic excavation initially removed rocks and sterile particulate matter to a depth of approximately 5 feet, which was then was re-filled into to the required and non-permit permissible 4 feet. 

A “non-toxic” fertile corpus - rich in carbon (18%), nitrogen (3.2%), calcium (1.5%), phosphorus (1%) and other plant nourishing compounds (tequila, entheogens, broken dreams) - was acquired from willing source. 

This fertile corpus will be reverentially and ceremonially placed in the “vegetable and flower garden” at at depth of 3.5 feet to ensure adequate decomposition. 

Over this, an ornamental “raised bed mound” will be shaped and surrounded by a curated collection of cow, goat and monkey skulls (to ward off slugs); each skull humanely sourced from local animal hospices. 

The flower will exclusively be Papaver somniferum and the vegetables will be “dragon fruit,” “hairy squash,” Durian and “blood-splattered radish.” 

A wooden “garden marker” with a pithy and poignant message will be set in the sacred ground above the “garden” to remark upon the transience of all things except The Bone and the enduring abundance of the earth’s riches. 


***

The love is mutual. Know that I’m healthy, happy and hopeful for my future. This project is a spiritual meditation upon the impermanence of all thing and the enduring power of love. The fertile corpus is mostly composed of my writing, art, letters, photos, etc. These tired ghosts deserve to be freed from their haunting and returned to the earth. Old Scot Casey suits that no longer fit me. As with all rituals, it’s a means of reorienting the mind. My compass points towards The Bone but I’m not there yet. There’s a ways still yet to go. I look forward to seeing you face-to-face in the near future, my old friend. 


3 August 2018



Well, we are all dying. I’m just planning ahead. The jokes are endless: I’m digging to be a Holey Man. It’s a grave matter. A hobby to keep my mind off killing myself. 

All of these are partially true. But I’m happy and healthy - at least healthy enough to move 3000 lbs of dirt. Probably will make it through the end of the year, at least. Mostly it’s a w(hole)some spiritual meditation upon the many deaths we all live through: family, friends and selves. 

I returned to Bellingham to have a ceremony with my sister for the spreading of my parent’s ashes at Heart Lake. But also to free myself from the few possessions that I left behind: a dozen boxes of writings, letters, artwork, photographs. These, along with a trunk full of old Scot Casey suits that no longer fit and are no longer in style, will go in the grave. 

But like all things that have a skeletal meaning, it’s not so much about burying the bone as it is about digging the hole. 

For the last year, I’ve been actively writing a a biography, The Beautiful Life and Horrible Death of Charles B. Jones. I need about 6 months to finish it. 

A close friend has a Fisherman’s Hut on the coast of Maine with a wood burning stove. He said if I’m willing to cut path through the woods and build some stone walls, I can live there for free. He told me, it will be cold and hard and difficult: no electricity, no phone, no internet. No people. I told him, it sounds perfect. I’m heading out there - hopefully - in September. 

I’m poorer than I’ve ever been. I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been. Living - by choice - in a tent at my sister’s place north of Lake Whatcom - not far from my grave. 


31 July 2018



My grave. Looking to build a pine casket. Paint it with bones and curses and fill it with my writings, plus a few notes foretelling death and doom to anyone who might dig it up. 

I tell people I just needed a hobby to keep my mind off killing myself.

But it’s a wholesome meditation and healthy physical practice. I’m thinking of writing An Exercise and Diet Book: The Gravedigger Protocol: How to Dig Your Way to a More Skeletal You.

Psychologically and philosophically, I wanted to dig my own private Bone Hole, since we all journey from womb to tomb. Graves are bone makers, skeleton generators. Plant those bones like seeds in the soil. It’s an endlessly fertile metaphor.

And finally, after posting all my photos of external travels, I wanted to post an inward journey that everyone can relate to - if few willingly make. Of course (I hope), the death is symbolic and the burial a means of honoring and saying farewell to an old, tattered and uncomfortable Scot Casey suit that no longer fits. 

Someone told me I should just rent a backhoe. I replied that I preferred to dig an artisanal handmade grave.


30 July 2018

I might act like the Man With No Name. But I’m surrounded by an activated, enlightened and loving community of family and friends that give me the great privilege of living the way I do. I don’t take that for granted. I’m not as active as you are, but I absolutely depend upon the strength and love of others. I’d be nothing without family and friends, my community. I mean, who is the audience here? Who do I hope and pray cared and continues to sustain me with their love? As I said, I’m struggling with the natural masculinity that infects my creativity, corrupts my thinking and makes what is beautiful, ugly. 


29 July 2018

There’s a deep fear in me that I need to come to terms with. It’s difficult to live with the doubt when it settles upon me. I’m a failure in every way; as a man, as a husband, as a lover, as a writer, artist, friend. The face in the mirror looks like a whipped dog. I try to express what means most to me snd it is nothing, a jumble of tired words, my language is soiled and chewed over, empty. Drugs sex travel no longer offer any solution. My whole life is a book that can’t be written and what is are only the dregs of the thing. I feel like I’ve been avoiding facing up to my doubts and deepest fears, fetishizing them in private, working so hard to deny them in public. The only way to keep living and not to constantly betray myself and hurt others is to find a workable solitude , where I can face my fears and doubts alone and try to come to terms with them. Otherwise, I feel like I’m losing my mind. I don’t want to feel this sorrow and pain anymore. I don’t want to hurt anyone. But I can’t continue to live with this sorrow and fear. I’m just confessing. Everything always works out for me. 


19 July 2018

Killing time in Portland. Colin Wilson once said that outsiders appear like wounds upon a dying civilization. If so, then hipsters are the oozing ponytailed pustules. Portland is infected. It’s all haircuts and attitudes harmless, but gluten free humanely sourced obnoxious - like a covey of small pampered poodles that won’t eat their hand prepared pate unless you place it on their tongues and help them chew. 

Think I’m gonna head up to Mt Hood and stomp around in the hopes of destabilizing the Cascadian Subduction Zone, jump start the Ring of Fire and watch the tops of Mt Baker, Mt Rainer, Mt St Helens and Mt Hood blow up like Roman candles. 

Or sit here in Caffe Vita with a well prepared latte listening to Beach House and write semi-subversive Google reviews:

Arguably, Lockhart is the Mecca of Texas BBQ, although I can think of about a half dozen other towns that could likewise be so called. As far as the great schism goes, which is better: Black’s, Kreuz’s or Smitty’s? I prefer to honor each as its own glorious incarnation. The true pilgrim completes the BBQ trifecta of one meat and one side at each in one day. Kreuz’s is the king of pork ribs and sausage for me. There’s some beautiful mysterious alchemy that goes into those ribs. Nothing else like them in the world. That sweet post oak flavor and those ancient pit bricks imbue the meat with a sort of ambrosia of the gods flavor. The sausage just tastes real, full as full of flavor as they can be. For good measure, i also got a half pound of brisket with a good layer of fat. As tender and rich as you could ever want, approaching the sexual, echoing that ineffable rib magic. Kreuz’s is weakest in sides - if you care about that sort of thing. But everything goes well with a pile of such beautiful meat - including, and most especially, life. To paraphrase Schopenhauer, Life without BBQ would be a mistake.


14 July 2018

When I was in Mexico - the classes were 95% Mexican kids for whom English was their second language. By default, I excelled. But I was also coming into my own and had some intellectual fire. 

I had one friend and was naturally alienated because of race and language. 

My parents were concerned. I rarely did homework but got good grades. I won an award for being the best student in the freshman class. But I wasn't being challenged and became overconfident in my natural intellectual abilities. I often engaged teachers in off-topic discussions in class. 

My parents decided I needed a more stimulating academic environment than the American School could provide.

I didn't want to go to a Mexican college, so I took tests to be admitted to a private school in Dallas, Greenhill. I took the tests and got admitted. 

My grandparents agreed to let me live with them for the next two years - until my family returned from Mexico. It was an expensive school to attend. And it was impressed upon me that I was being given a great privilege and opportunity to excel, to be extremely grateful and to live up to the expectations of my family. 

For two years, I never said argued or countered any request of my Grandparent's, never said no when asked to do a chore. My grandfather woke me up at 7 every Saturday morning - often after football games - to do work in the yard for the day. I also often worked after I got home from school. Good work: planting trees and rose bushes, pruning branches, hauling out debris and trash. I got to know my Grandfather and Grandmonther as I never had before. 

Greenhill was challenging at first. Mostly, because I wasn't prepared for the autonomy of an educational environment where I was not required to attend class. Grades, I was told, were not considered the most important aspect of learning. There were open classrooms where I could sit in on any class that interested me - or leave those that didn't. A common area where students and teachers sat around discussing ideas and literature, arguing over interpretation, trading high gossip about Hart Crane or Herodotus.  

Without an external structure and discipline, I had no balance, nothing to push against. I was surrounded by whiz kids talking about Garcia Marquez and The Wasteland. Everyone had already read Salinger and Plath. 

I had an advisor- who was to become one of the most important people in my intellectual development- Mr Williams - a sort of prep school William Burroughs. I met with him and told him I didn't think I belonged there. I wasn't smart enough. He nodded, unsmiling. He found my file. Looked it over.

You might be right, Mr Casey. 

I was expecting reassurance. 

Because even though your test scores were very high and even though you are fluent in Spanish, it appears you are not as smart as most of the other students. 

My head hanging low. I fight tears in my eyes.

But you are just as intelligent as they are. You've got natural intelligence. But you haven't learned how to be smart. And if you want to stay here, you must learn how to apply your intelligence. Forget about grades. Forget about doing well on tests and quizzes. They mean nothing. From now on, you must strive to know the subject you are being taught as if your life depended upon it - because it does. Not to know what will be on a test, but to know it because it is important to your life, to learn what is the meaning of your life.

One man. Of all the paths my life could've taken, by some beautiful twist of fate, I meet this one teacher who believed in me and took the time to ignite a fire in the dumb soft tinder of my mind. One great, difficult and weird, teacher changed my life, set me on the path up the mountain where I learned how to turn my lead into gold.

That's not to minimize the stimulating environment of Greenhill. It was a rich culture with a myriad of resources and other excellent oddball teachers that encouraged and demanded a lot out of me. Mr. Norris and Mr. Gonzales immediately come to mind. 

I didn't want to leave my family in Mexico. I didn't want to leave the few friends I had made. I didn't want to live with my Grandparents. I didn't want to go to a richy rich private prep school. But when I look back now, leaving my home and entering into a challenging academic and social environment were the best choices I ever made. Absolutely essential into making me into who I am. I often look back at who I might've been otherwise with the sense of a man who almost missed the last boat leaving to his destination. Goddamn! Goddamn! I made it! 

I don't know if this long history helps you. I will say at the time the choices seemed between the lesser of two evils - there was no purely good or right choice. But even then, I could see that a part of me wanted to grow strong in a struggle, to be pushed to my limits, to be disciplined and trained for a higher purpose. Sounds pompous and religious. A little. Like all the other students at Greenhill, i learned to how to use my natural gifts to be smart and clever. By others believing in me, I learned to believe in myself. And I knew that whatever I became, it would be extra-ordinary - as in non-ordinary. Although, I know Mr Williams's would be greatly amused to see how I have applied my intellect to become a nomadic priest of my own idiosyncratic religion, worshiping at the vacant altar over the dead god's skull and bones. There's book smart and there's bone smart. I'm bone smart. 



13 July 2018

Working on the Jonesiad. Jones has died and wished me to burn the flesh from his bones on a funeral pyre. For inspiration, I turned to the cremation of Patroclus from the Iliad. I had forgotten the intense violence of the scene. 

Flayed sheep and cattle, blood pools and soaks earth, the corpse encased in fat, carcasses of animals set to burn, four horses thrown, thrown, on the pyre. Cutting the throats of two of Patroclus' dogs, then twelve young Trojan boys. Preparing to feed Hector, whom he has already dragged around behind his chariot, to the dogs while Priam watches. 

And there are those that believe Blood Meridian is hyper-violent. Book 23 matches and exceeds it in many ways. 

"They flayed and dressed numerous fine sheep and sleek shambling cattle before the pyre, and noble Achilles took fat from them all and wrapped the corpse in it, head to foot, and piled the flayed carcasses around. Then he leant two-handled jars of oil and honey against the bier, and groaning aloud swiftly threw the bodies of four proud horses on the pyre. Of the nine dogs Patroclus fed beneath his table, Achilles cut the throats of two and threw their bodies on the pyre. Then he completed the grim task he had in mind, killing twelve noble sons of the brave Trojans with his bronze blade, and setting the pyre alight so the pitiless flames would spread. Then he gave a groan, and called his dear friend by name: ‘All hail to you, Patroclus, though in the House of Hades. See how I keep the promises I made. Twelve noble sons of brave Trojans, the fire will devour with you. But the dogs, not the flames, shall feed on Hector, son of Priam.’

What is further remarkable is the peace between Priam and Achilles in Book 24, after securing Hector's body from Achilles, Priam is persuaded to eat and sleep with his son's murder. What writer would have had the audacity and talent to bring these two together, let alone have them eat and sleep peacefully near each other? 

It's one of the most poignant and psychologically penetrating scenes in Western Literature. 


12 July 2018

The Ghost Ranch will change your life. If New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment, this is its heart, the source out of which the enchantment is born. The Piedra Lumbre area, the Valley of the Shining Stone, is one of those mysterious and sacred places of the natural world that has worked its spell on early first peoples, pioneer settlers, solitary wanderers, painters, poets and everyday travelers for centuries. Like all truly sacred places, it has an aura of good and bad power - it’s history tells of blood and bones and a haunted legacy. It is outstanding that the Ghost Ranch manages to embrace and celebrate this storied enchantment while still providing a safe, healthy and happy space for families and all manner of folks, old and young, to restore and replenish their spirits. The amenities are excellent: a friendly and helpful staff, an informative and enthusiastic welcome center, well provisioned cafe with an excellent WiFi area, excellent food in the dining hall, a truly wonderful and rich 24 hour library, daily worship services, free yoga. On top of this are fascinating lectures, tours, trail rides on horseback, many sublime hiking trails, magical desert labyrinths, medicine wheels, Zen rock gardens. Add to this two excellent museums containing elegant collections of anthropological and archaeological history. What is most refreshing for myself- on a strict budget - is that there is an inexpensive and beautiful campground for tent sites with a clean and excellent bathhouse close by. I’m deeply appreciative the Ghost Ranch keeps this option open for solitary travelers such as myself. It can get crowded with daytime visitors, but in the evenings after most have gone, sitting in a chair underneath a cottonwood, looking out towards the Pedernal, you feel as centered as you’ll ever be in this unbalancing world. It’s a true gift to be able to dwell in such a place. I can’t help but believe that Carol Bishop Stanley and Arthur Pack and even Georgia O’Keeffe would be smiling. 


11 July 2018

In Cortez, Colorado. Was hiking around Canyon of the Ancients, unmediated piles of ruins from around 1200. Think: Genghis Kahn, Children’s Crusade, Magna Carta. Bone and pottery shreds everywhere. Great midden piles.
Summer thunderstorm rolls in. Light rain. Ghost winds. Rumplestiltskin thunder. Driving out on unpaved roads.
Thunderheads raining down on fields of cut corn. Two mule deer standing solitary in the middle of the golden field. I stop the Jeep. Think about the photograph, then curse myself for thinking so. Windows rolled down. Raining about 100 feet up the highway. Mule deer watching me watching them. The Pulse of Savage Ground.

I remember Edward Dahlberg:

Whatever we do is vast, unconscious
geography; we are huge space giants of the
mesa, surd, mad rivers that rush along, and
we do not care to be near each other; this
is not ancient wickedness, but solitary
prairie grazing.


10 July 2018

In Santa Fe. This city always smells like expensive wood. Piñon smoke rising from the fires of a million Indian bones. Don't get me wrong. I love Santa Fe. It's a beautiful simulacrum of a city. What was once "The Real" has been hollowed out and transformed into merchandise - authentic hand-made native treasures shipped in from third-world down-state sweat shops. I love it because it's obvious. The beauty of the whorehouse (and Santa Fe) is there's no more pretense. Everyone is here to either fuck or get fucked. The drama is only in figuring cost. I also believe there is a post-menopausal hormone that compels women here to get a fake tan, whiten their teeth or dentures to a blinding albedo, attach long blonde or silver ponytail extensions, dress in designer blue jeans with Italian boots, wear cute cowgirl hats and adorn their skeletal dermabrasioned hands with turquoise and silver. They now reserve their fake orgasms for Georgia O’Keeffe's vaginal flora. The men follow them around like miniature Macy's day floats of cartoon geldings, mouths dumbly slack, credit cards instead of fingers, with a distant fading memory that the creature now tugging them along used to at least pretend to love them. Again: marriage in the whorehouse. The fables in the slaughterhouse-house all have the same moral message.

Ah Damn ... I'm just surly from having had so much solitude. Human kind cannot bear very much reality - including myself.

7 July 2018

Walked over 20,000 steps yesterday. Some form of restlessness. Felt oddly blocked with regards to writing. Walked it off. Basically, was hungover all day. Towards evening, felt pains in my chest - as if my heart were a fragile assemblage of dried twigs and spiderwebs, that if I made a wrong move, it would splinter apart. I didn't realize how dehydrated I was.

After sitting a long while on the veranda overlooking the Pedernal, I walked back to the tent. Sat in my chair, feet propped up, drinking wine, watching the day even and fade. But the wine - perhaps because it is cheap box wine or perhaps because of my dehydration - only made me feel worse. Just after dusk, there was lightning to the east, on the other side of the cliffs. Just flashes of light, no arc light, no thunder, almost like heat lighting. But the clouds were gathering and darkening the stars. It was beautiful. I quickly moved things around in the jeep to make a place for me to sleep inside.

Then I sat on the picnic table and watched to skies. I had a skywatch app on my phone that identified stars and constellations. To my left was Jupiter and the clear star points of Scorpio. Over my shoulder was a spray of the Milky Way. While to my right was the gathering darkness, punctuated with rhythmic flashes of lightning. Over my head was the trapezoid constellation of the lyre. Endlessly fascinating.

Around 10 pm, I crawled in the Jeep, windows cracked. Around 11 a light rain began to fall, tapping gently on the roof of the jeep. It is always warming to feel safe and secure in the rain. I had thought about staying in the tent. But inside the tent, with the rain sheet, I couldn't see outside. And while the Jeep is slightly cramped, it just takes getting used to.

I woke up once around 2 am to re-inflate my air mattress (which has a hole) and pee into my pee bottle. It was cool and clear outside. I briefly contemplated returning to the tent, then feel into a deep sleep until 7 am. I dreamed of Jones. Of his genealogy, his ancestors and their stories.

Took care of my morning rituals - floss, brush teeth wash face (Good morning, Gran), wet hair and comb it - then walked down passed the horses feeding in the corral to the cafe. Caught up on the news and social media. Submitted a poem, The American Mythos, to Rattle Magazine's $10,000 contest. Who knows? I could use the $10K.
Walked up to the library and was happy to find no one in the little Theology Room that I like so much.

I have had some issues with writing. While I deeply enjoy writing by hand - there is something of the prayer to it - a sacredness - and the knowledge that it will be transferred to the digital world - this malleable space. There is a certain amount of sorrow in that I have become more comfortable expressing myself in this manner. It is faster - not necessarily a good thing - more malleable and much easier to read than my handwriting - which has deteriorated. This has been a troubling issue for me. And has given me some reservations about Maine. Of course, I know I can adjust. But the writing of the Jonesiad is a kind of hyper textual writing, with many interlinking and dependent aspects. And while it is designed to be printed and read on the printed page, the composition of it is complex and layered - dependent upon plasticity and hypertextuality of digital files.

The other issue is that I want the technology to be miniamalized. It struck me last night that I could use my Bluetooth keyboard and iPad. This would give me an almost invisible physical presence - as opposed to setting up my Mac mini or using Margaret's clunky laptop. And allow me to write straight into the ether of the digital realm. Even without wifi, either writing in Notes (which I have been using with increasing frequency) or Pages allows me to have a means to write rapidly (and with cut and paste from PDFs in iBook) with a rudimentary spell check and the ability to sync as soon as I am around wifi. In other words, this solution seems about perfect.

What I want is a way to easily and simply write all the time, to have that writing securely saved and to have it sync with my phone and desktop if needed.

I want to write everywhere: in cafes, motels, rest stops, libraries. I think I have found an excellent and elegant solution.

4 July 2018

I like the analogy of the solute and the solution. The Universe is like a vast ocean, the solution, and we are these concentrations of solute - physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. When we die, it is as if the substance of our solute is dissolved in the solution of the universe. But not everything dissolves, some remnants or chaff or dregs of our physical self remains at the bottom of the bottle - so to speak. Whether this be bones or ashes or empty shells, whoever was once attached to them is long dissolved into the solution of the Universe.


3 July 2018

Been working steadily since February, living and breathing the Word. The Book is like a fractal dragon, the deeper I go in, the more complex it becomes. If Joyce intended Ulysses as a sort of poetic Wunderkammer of Dublin, the Jonesiad is a kind of natural history museum diorama of the death of the gods, with skulls as large as cathedrals and bones the size of trains. It’s a book filled with madness, blood and enormous laughter. 

This turning back around and heading West, revisiting again the landscapes I’ve been writing about for the last five months, feels as if I am traveling deeper into my own mind. Maintaining the practice of writing regardless: in motels, cafes, public and university libraries, rest stops, parks and campgrounds has been rewarding and strengthening. Nevertheless, I look forward to the Chama where I can hammer words as hard as I like with no fear of shattering anything but my sanity.

I also look forward to talking with you about ecstatic language, the novel as an invention to replace the absence of god and the haunting sense that words, which originally functioned as mnemonic tools, have replaced the essential meaning of primary memory. General Semantics: we remember the menu but not the meal. 

***

For so many years, I have felt not up to the task I set before me. More: there was an anxiety about being too precocious to authentically stand beside my words. Like a twenty-something with a Sinatra hat and a pipe singing old blues songs, I caught the odor of pretense in my language. It was just enough doubt to make it all seem hollow. However, finally I feel up to standing beside the words, of being able to drive them along and keep any from straying too far. (Cows being driven to slaughter analogy is perfectly apt.) And it’s a beautiful experience to write with no doubt, with no suspicion of hollowness, to hammer the language like a blacksmith on an anvil and not like a bull in a china shop. 


3 July 2018

I’m here in Roswell. Everywhere I go, the virus of mass culture (oxymoron), the cult of comfortable sameness, has infected the landscape. The hope is for the land to endure.... this fabled enchantment. 

I asked the woman that ran the El Patio Inn in San Angelo where I could find a cup of coffee that wasn’t Starbuck’s. She was puzzled. Told me: “I guess, you can try the McDonald’s”. I’m not on any elitist trip here. The idea of a local coffee shop doesn’t make much sense in San Angelo. Life’s hard enough without having to be political about coffee. But I still drive slowly through downtown like Diogenes looking for an honest cup of joe.

A sign in a town near the state line declared itself to be “somewhere between enchantment and an entirely different country”. For an instant, I think they mean Mexico. But the border is too far south. They mean Texas. 

The state highway from Hobbs to Artesia cut through massive oil fields. Three coal black thunderheads dropping rain in grey veils in the distance. Brueghel landscape: black gas shunt pipes rising periodically all capped with flames, pump jacks as far as the eye can see, like a fascist robot army. To the west in the storm black sky lightning arcs to earth over and over, as if the heavens are trying to defibrillate a long dead carcass. With each arc light strike, it seems every pumpjack pauses for a moment like a great congregation of vultures warily lifting up from their feeding. 

I know all of this. I’ve been witness to it as I have traveled for the last year and more. But the trailers and rusted out cars are buzzing with meth and opioids. The rural atmosphere is as ugly and vicious as a mad dog that’s been abused until it barks and bites every thing with no discrimination. Parents are disciplining their children with gunfire. The small town faces don’t meet anyone’s eye.

Outside my cheap motel room I can hear what I’m assuming are early fireworks. I look out the door. No sign of any explosions in the sky. Squeal of tires. Cars accelerating. More fireworks, I wonder. Kafkas Silence. Then: Sirens in the distance. Ulysses at the mast... listening and listening.

Through all of this, I am listening to an audiobook of Don Quixote. Edith Grossman translation. Quixote has just acquired the Helmet of Mambrino, which is actually only a barber’s brass basin. Sancho makes the point, to which Quixote responds:

“Do you know what I imagine, Sancho? This famous piece of the enchanted helmet, by some strange accident, must have fallen into the hands of one who could not recognize or estimate its value, and not knowing what he was doing, and seeing that it was made of purest gold, he must have melted down one half to take advantage of its high price, and from the other half he made this, which resembles a barber’s basin, as you say. Be that as it may, I recognize it, and its transmutation does not matter to me.”

Here’s my aspiration of enchantment: to recognize it, to see beyond this transmutation of the land, to ignore the cost, to not care what anyone will pay for it, but to honor the poetry of it, what’s left of the poetry (what a word here: poetry). A Sonnet for the End of Days, composed at a forgotten table in the back of the Denny’s. 

21st century Quixote refills my coffee as Sancho buses the tables nearby. 

I’m headed to Albuquerque tomorrow, which will only be worse. But after that, I’ll be in the Chama River Canyon. 

***

Leaving San Angelo, headed into New Mexico.

Waiting on a state of mind while I am in that state of mind, spinning up a story to convince myself it doesn’t matter which state I’m in - but still moving to another in an eternal calculus that never reaches its destination. 

The Poet says, "Teach us to sit still."

But he also says,

"And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss..."

And I have no desire to forget. I fear that I may forget “these matters” and, after that, will have no forgiveness. 

My language has been documenting a journey through an interior landscape for the last five months or more. As I am moving outwards now and through that selfsame landscape externalized, the words turn themselves inside out. 

The river of blood that was rushing madly through my mind now madly rushes out of an enormous wound in the world, blood having carved canyon and cliff and pulsed silent through deserts. I have been watching the shadow theater, standing close to the internal fire at the heart of my skull. Now the sun burns so bright in this big sky world, even the shadows are overwhelmed and evaporated. 

I pull over to the side of the highway and write my words in the dust and dirt collected there from a million passages. 


1 July 2018

Adjustments to solitude and freedom. Glimpses of a discipline and control. But it was out of this systematic derangement of the senses that I was born. I have always been addicted to the Dragon’s Breath.

Waiting on a state of mind while I am in that state of mind, spinning up a story to convince myself it doesn’t matter which state I’m in - but still moving to another in an eternal calculus that never reaches its destination. The Poet says, Teach us to sit still. But he also says,

And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss...

And I have no desire to forget. I fear that I may forget “these matters” and, after that, will have no forgiveness. 

My language has been documenting a journey through an interior landscape for the last five months or more. As I moving outwards now and through that selfsame landscape externalized, the words turn themselves inside out. The river of blood that was rushing madly through my mind now madly rushes out of an enormous wound in the world, blood having carved canyon and cliff and pulsed silent through deserts. I have been watching the shadow theater, standing close to the internal fire at the heart of my skull. Now the sun burns so bright in this big sky world, even the shadows are overwhelmed and evaporated.  

We are all of us just tracings in the dust of a dead world, ghosts long since gone, and what we know, what we think about when we remember our selves are only the fragments of ancient memories that an alien inhuman wind has cast together under the stone. Hope is born from sorrow, from the tears that fall into the dust of our being. What we do: make soil and tell stories.

***

I had to fight the urge to shave my hair, eyebrows, entire body tonight. Undergoing 40 days of transformation, isolation. I’m not in tune with her drama (sad as it is), only my own.

I don’t know. A friend of mine was just down on the border, helping asylum seekers reunite with their families. It made me feel I’m heading the wrong direction. But I’m not losing sight of the book. There’s nothing more important to me. So 30 to 40 days to get up there. I’ll run out of money in 20, so I’ll have to figure something out. Writing all day in coffee shops, all night in motels. Rest stops. Gas stations. The door remains behind my eyes. I just keep waiting to open my eyes and see it there before me.

***

The usual adjustments to the possibilities of freedom balanced with finding a place to write. In San Angelo, notable for not being on an Interstate. Thought about staying here a few more days, but I want New Mexico under my feet. Headed to Roswell. A lot of cheap rooms there. Decent library. Of course, all of the tacky alien kitsch. I think it was Kundera who said Kitsch is the denial of shit. I get the sense he’s never been to Roswell. I’m excited to get back behind the mule and speed the plow. 

I’m trying not to drive more than 4 hours a day to still have time to read and write. I’ll most likely be in GJ for a few days (or more) in a couple of weeks. Might ask Tara if there’s still a place in the garage.

 Thunderstorms rolled in this evening, cracked the sky in half. Beautiful. It’s all big sky out here.


30 June 2018

Sitting a bar I helped build in Austin. No one here knows me. How I like it. Several new “regulars” going on about the history of the place. From where I sit, I can see the very bricks upon which I sat upon the rock bottom and hit it over and over again. The walls have scars from my wild anger. I have fallen in love and out of love here. And I am - for the moment - a ghost. 


27 June 2018

Melville: Ahab from the Quarter-Deck: the little lower layer...

"Hark ye yet again, - the little lower layer. All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event - in the living act, the undoubted deed - there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask!”

House-sitting gigs and all other odd work completed here in Austin. Friends seen and unseen. So many masks worn for so long the skin has grown over them like the bark of a tree around a horseshoe hammered into it years past. A few shining forth radiant.

Jennifer and I are going our separate ways for the next month until we meet back up in Bellingham. I'm staying with my friend Eman and his family until Friday morning, when I set out headed west for the first time since 2015. 

My intention is to drive no more than 4 hours a day, find a place to sleep, find a place to write. Spend the next month fleshing out the rest of the book, absorbing the broke down small town atmospheres of cheap motels and highway rest stops, serial killer hunting grounds. In larger cities, finding refuge in the local gyms and university libraries. In the more isolated areas, sanctuary in the solitudes of riverside and lost roads leading nowhere. 

The sense of being haunted by the memory of  the mnemonic and not what it represents has returned. After the friendly distractions of Austin, I want to dive deep, touch the bottom, drive the blade of my language back into the fundament of things. Throw away the maps and menus and mnemonics and walk the land, feeding on my own hunger, reciting what I know by heart.

I entertain myself with the image of a slime and blood covered skeleton of a book having emerged from the womb of my brain, clicking soft teeth and bone together like crab or spider. Here’s the time when I shove it back in to my skull and conjure forth the flesh, give the blood born from marrow animated habitation and face. 

My fears and insecurities are always in regards to memory. I imagine the juggler with a thousand objects in the air: knives, hammers, bones, skulls, tears, laughter, sighs, whispers all being thrown into and falling out of the great hieroglyph there suspended in the air, in my memory. Just focus on what’s in your hand, remember the pattern. 

This time away from the page here in Austin has me worried. A snake appears suddenly in my right hand, I throw it up again. A cross manifests itself in my left hand, I throw it up again. I don’t know what they mean. My thoughts have been distracted. Skeleton Key, Dog Collar, Counterfeit Coin, Empty Bottle. Everything is still in the air, the pattern is holding, but I feel a tremendous urgency to return with full attention and presence of mind.

I am happy to be returning to the road.


21 June 2018

I agree. Been thinking a lot about the nature of that troubling word, "addiction." The way I see it, we're all addicts in one way or another. It's like a parasite that feeds off the host's vitality, life force. For many, their relationship with the parasite (drink, drugs, porn, food, egotism, power) is a form of imaginary, one-sided love. Miss (or Mister) Lonelyhearts all alone but setting the candlelit dinner table for two, laughing at the imagined conversation with the dream lover. At first, it's all good fun. The addict sees through the folly of the pantomime. The sad day comes soon enough though when the parasite forces Miss Lonelyhearts to set the table and go through the motions against her will, tears ruining her face as she laughs the fake laugh, asks the questions she already knows the sad answers to. Every iteration of the drama widening the wound of an existential loneliness until one day she (or he) realizes its easier just to surrender to the parasite, to the addiction, and convinces themselves this sad drama is all there is. By now, the roots of desire at the heart of the addiction are so intertwined with their own roots that there's no way to remove the parasite without killing the host. They are necessary to each other, part of one personality. Perhaps these words give the impression I am free. But I am not. Not a day goes by, sometimes every hour, that I don't feel the presence of the parasite. If I've "learned" anything - like learning how to reopen a bleeding wound - I have become expert in detaching myself from my own pain, sadistically observing the parasite suffer as I starve it, starve myself, and taking perverse delight in control - this control simply another addiction, another parasite that feeds off the previous one. In this manner, Ahab in a moment of nostalgic reflection sees through his monomaniacal obsession and refers to himself as "poor old cannibal me." We are all, everyone of us, "addicted" - feeding off of one self or another to appease the hunger, the desire. It's a rigged shell game. If you play, you'll lose. Miss Lonelyhearts sits at the table starving, refusing to set the dishes, silent, refusing to engage in the sad drama, but triumphant - only dying just a little faster than the rest of us. 


4 June 2018

SC: Honored for my words to be employed in such a gainful manner. 

SW: Interesting how when married the text and the image find undertone overtone resonance. 

SC: It's a beautiful alchemy. Each echoing previously unnoticed elements of the other. 

SW: Its the reason I want American Mtythos as an accompanying essay in a book of bathers. If you read it you hafta look at the work in a kind of wheres Waldo way. Jonas Lehrer maps some of this phenomenon writing about Cezanne. Allow the audience some room to read and make connections with cadence and gaps rather everything=everything.

SC: Much Appreciated. I'm fascinated by the idea of the Third Mind. In Haiku, where two apparently disconnected images are untied in the mind of the reader by the third: mountain pond / frog / splash! Or the gutter between the panels of a comic: a gun in a hand / frightened eyes / bang! It is how the mind fills in the blanks that is beautiful - especially when the first one is a painting and the second one is a poem. The Third in this case takes the viewer / reader into the deep end of the pool where the poem and the painting are looked at again with less innocent eyes, each enriching the other. I read and look again and again, trying to see how that trick works. 



2 June 2018

An interchange between JP and myself:

SKC:

“For, in certain moods, no man can weigh this world, without throwing in something, somehow like Original Sin, to strike the uneven balance. At all events, perhaps no writer has ever wielded this terrific thought with greater terror than this same harmless Hawthorne. Still more: this black conceit pervades him, through and through. You may be witched by his sunlight,—transported by the bright gildings in the skies he builds over you;—but there is the blackness of darkness beyond; and even his bright gildings but fringe, and play upon the edges of thunder-clouds.—In one word, the world is mistaken in this Nathaniel Hawthorne. He himself must often have smiled at its absurd misconception of him. He is immeasurably deeper than the plummet of the mere critic. For it is not the brain that can test such a man; it is only the heart. You cannot come to know greatness by inspecting it; there is no glimpse to be caught of it, except by intuition; you need not ring it, you but touch it, and you find it is gold.”

JP: 

Years ago, you introduced me --and maybe all of us--to Lawrence's Studies in Classic American Lit. Some of the best essays ever on American 19th century writers. FO Matthiessen, Perry Miller wrote great stuff on Hawthorne , too. maybe Melville's review of his short stories remains the gold standard--the "power of blackness." The same year Hawthorne wrote House of the Seven Gables, Melville wrote MD (and dedicated it to Hawthorne)--best year ever in history of Anerican letters. Perry Miller wrote about how the two actually met, in the Berkshires, as part of a hiking excursion Hawthorne's lit agent put together. A storm appeared out of nowhere and sent everyone seeking cover. HM and NH sought cover under same rocky overhang and waited out storm talking. HM visited NH when he wa serving as Franklin Pierce appointed diplomat in Liverpool. HM on way to Holy Land to write his forgotten epic Clarel. NH's journal entry on the visit is astonishing--sends chills down the spine. No doubt his influence on MD. Ahab is a sort of Ethan Brand--seeker of the unpardonable sin--but lost at sea, doomed to wander for all of time.

SKC: 

There's a curious aporia surrounding that book for me.

Years ago, probably 20 or so, I was reading a book of literary criticism. Perhaps on the back cover, or in a preface, was written a passage about how this book was one of the five best or most iconic or most profound books on literary criticism ever written. Something to that effect. But I cannot remember what the book of criticism was that I was reading. It was, I believe, one of the five. The others that I can recall - that may include the book itself - were:

1. Studies in Classic American Literature by D. H. Lawrence
2. Can These Dry Bones Live by Edward Dahlberg
3. The Figure of Beatrice by Charles Williams 
(This may be an error as it is the only one not having to do with American Lit. But what a book!)
4. Call Me Ishmael by Charles Olson
5. ???

Each of these books has a certain idiosyncratic poetic quality that sets it apart from the crowd. Each just knocks it out of the park for me, re-aligning my aesthetic orientations - not merely as a work of criticism dependent upon a primary source -  but as a stand alone work of art, sui generis. 

I have long thought the original passage was in Lawrence, in an introduction to Lawrence or one of the various editions - but cannot locate it there. 

I have casually searched for years to find the original reference and the fifth book. My gut is that I have read it, that this aporia has been romanticized by my memory into the Holy Grail of Literary Criticism. 

The other suspects follow. Again, my sense is that it concerns the American Canon but may not be written by an American - which, if this is the case, knocks out Williams, and creates another blank. It seems like a work from mid-20th century. 

Prime:
On Being Blue by William Gass
The Power of Blackness by Harry Levin
No! In Thunder by Leslie Fiedlier
Aspects of the Novel by E. M. Forster (oddball,  but nagging)


Lesser:
Seven Types of Ambiguity by William Empson
The Wheel of Fire by G. Wilson Knight
Allegory by Angus Fletcher
The Mirror and the Lamp by M. H. Abrams
Axel's Castle by Edmund Wilson
Other Inquisitions by Borges
Mimesis by Auerbach


1 June 2018

One of those days where being in an electrified wooden box with a pool of sewer water in the closet is working on my nerves. Being surrounded by an entire colony of similar boxes filled with puttering rodents, with their litters of screaming pupae, their tired worn out faces of fat feels like a trap. My hand is a strange polyp at the end of my arm. In fact, this entire itching aching skin suit filled with mucus and gas feels way too tight and constraining. I guess it's time to move on. Looking forward to being back in Austin and then back in the road.


May 31, 2018

Going through these old photos, reflections of self, I often feel as if I am looking at a stranger. 

The self inside me now is so different from the self that is looking at me out of those faces from the past.

It’s a slippery fish to think about. The self inside. 

The harder you try to hold it, the more you try to think about it, the slippery-er it becomes, the more un-thinkable. 


May 30, 2018

I often write with “the eye of a camera,” asking what elements of the cloud capped towers and solemn temples of this world inside my brain do I body forth into language? What would make a visually compelling scene in a film? 

This is crucial to my project, expressed in as compressed and elegant manner as a Japanese Death poem expresses the essential soul of the dying person. 

When asked what I’m writing, I’m often inclined to say, I am expressing the life of a man through the Purity of the Desert, the Simplicity of the Mountain and the Grace of the Ocean. 

While interesting poetically, there’s no Pulse in these statements. 

But if I say, it is the story of a man who discovered God’s Skull in the Desert; who asked me to burn his body after he died and place his bones and skull in a cave in a Mountain; and whose memory haunted me for many years until I received a letter  solved an essential mystery of his life, which I read while listening to the Ocean -  well there’s a Living Pulse in that. 

I can see those as a camera, as scenes in a film - any one of which would compel me to want to see more, to hear why and know what happened. 




May 29, 2018

Drank too much with Jennifer last night. Woke up early telling myself to ignore the edge of the hangover. Ended up just over-writing in an off key. Went back to sleep for an hour and when I woke up it was a new world. Wrote the poem as if my ear was caught be a song on the radio, then realizing I was in tune and could play along.


May 28, 2018


My sights are on the cathedral as I build a shack of bones in its shadow, telling myself: yes, it's not that, but isn't that the cleverest pile  of bones you ever saw? And the inner coach is shaking his head: Jesus F Casey, I said stones, not bones! And I know this. I know the word must be hard and difficult and heavy, but it's good to kick around during the breaks and feed the clowns the the lions. 

***



It’s an odd thing, perhaps, to feel a responsibility, an answerability, to an award that’s given to you in another’s name - especially when that person died as a soldier. I have no desire to fight for my country. But I’ve always felt a pressure to remember Steve Fordham. Of course, I never knew him. He might’ve been an obnoxious asshole. But it’s what he represented - especially to me as a younger man. I was surprised that anyone at the American School thought that highly of me. As I’ve been reflecting and working on the Memory Cathedral of my life, it only seemed appropriate on Memorial Day to pay him homage. 


May 27, 2018


From Shelton:

"I only have this on an Lp collection of trumpet players. It really stands out and reminds me of the sounds that brought me into jazz in the first place in Santa Fe in 1992 at Caxton Books. Melancholy, spacious, articulate if foreign. If you listen for Miles telling a story here presumably of lost love then around 4:23 Sonny Rollins comes in with a soft consoling, "yeah man I feel you, it hurts but we can't live in the past lest we ignore the present's potential...around 6 minutes Art Blakey taps on the door and says, enough of this sad talk Let's go out!"

Just beautiful. 

Was reading a little about the Dig Sessions. 


Haunted by drug addiction. Cavernous emptiness. That murky underwater sound. Blakely's drum buried deep in the mix. 

A strange alchemy, that distant music. It echoes always for me of Shakespeare's Cleopatra on the burning barge on the water and Eliot's Waste Land gloss with vials of perfumes ignited into the air. When I was young, I used to go out on the pier and listen to the music from the clubhouse across the lake drift over the water as waves knocked against the wood and frogs screamed and crickets chirped in choir. 

There's sublime exhaustion to the song, a core-tiredness. 

And now, in the aftermath, with all of the faults and history and imperfections baked in, it's impossible to listen to it any other way. 






When I used to smoke crack with D. everyday, we always had to keep music going to take the edge off the paranoia. We didn't really care what it was, just anything not too abrasive or loud. Her cousin had given her a stack of jazz CDs: mostly Miles, a lot of Etta James, Billie Holiday. We'd put one CD on repeat. And it would play for hours before either of us would care enough to change it. Kind of Blue, Sketches of Spain, Miles Ahead, Etta and Billie's greatest hits are inextricably interwoven in my memory with that time. It's not necessarily bad. But it brings the implicit sorrow into stark relief.   

***

Shelton: Jazz has the macguffin I'm chasing in painting. Abstract but strangely familiar. The sour blue and missing notes. Improvisation as the plan. Colored folks. Corralled chaotics. Erotic undertones. Nostalgia. 


For me, everything worth holding on to - as far as my writing - is what I write without thinking. Jazz is the obvious analogy. There are no mistakes. And after a certain level of mastery, there is no more practice, only playing. There's a story somewhere about Mingus. He's walks into the studio and sits down, tells the engineer he's ready, plays the entire piece. Asks how it sounds. The engineer nervously says, he thought that was warm up. He wasn't recording. Mingus says there's no such thing as warm up. The first take is always the best. Engineer has to talk him into playing it again. That's it. No overthinking, no thinking. Just writing on the page, forgetting the plot, the character, the intended meaning, just reading the words as they spool out of the pen - or keyboard. 


May 24, 2018

Was running errands with Jennifer. As I am wont to do, I made up a song after we passed a liquor store and wouldn't stop adding verses. Sung like country cowboy:

Gonna lick her in the front
Then I’ll poke her in the rear
But not tonight 
Cause I’m feeling kinda queer

So I’ll poke him in the butt
And I’ll lick him in the ear
Gonna get his nutt
When I poke him in the rear

Now I got a mutt
Likes to sniff me in the butt
So I poke him in the front
While he licks his butt

Now I’m slicker in the front
And I’m sloper in the rear
Gonna have some fun
Poking lick her licking butt

Liquor Poker Licking front
Poker poking licking queer 
Gotta a poker in my butt
Gotta a liquor in my beer


May 24, 2018

Dr Manhattan's quantum thinking always rivets my attention. What would a godlike man think? What would he say?

Alan Moore once wrote himself out onto the ledge with Miracleman because he couldn't write from the perspective of a superhuman god. Like a piece of paper struggling to describe the experience of the cube.

A common method for memorization is to use mnemonics - semi-meaningless phrases that prompt the more meaningful memories. 

ROY G BIV for the rainbow. Every Good Boy Does Fine and FACE for the notes of the Treble Clef. And so on. 

Large sets of complex information can be more easily remembered when it is encoded, often with rhyme and meter, into vivid surreal memorable phrases. The Major system thus enables people to remember PI up to thousands of digits.

So here's my theory: that language itself is a mnemonic for the world "out there." General semantics states the Map is not the Territory, the Menu is not the Meal. And the Word is not the Thing. 

I believe we have forgotten what the mnemonic *stood for* and believe the sense (truth value) of the mnemonic is all the sense we can understand. 

As if to say, My Very Elegant Mother Just Sat Upon Nine Pins no longer re-minds us of the order and names of the planets, but seems a reasonable thing to say.

Of course, this sounds ridiculous so stated. But consider that name Dr Manhattan is "trying to give" is the same as the Tetragrammaton, YHWH. 

The Tetragrammaton is not a word. It literally means, four letters. It has no pronunciation. It is never "read," although it has come to be known as Yahweh. It is a mnemonic for god - or a mnemonic to gather the mind back (re-mem-ber) to the godlike, hyper-meaningful awareness. 

For myself, my memory project, my creative project, the writing of this book, finds its roots in my attempts to remember the mnemonic of language, what the language "stands for." 

I believe words are spells. And to know how to truly spell a word is to remember what it stands for in the exact same manner that Roy G Biv stands for the beauty of the rainbow.

I know the mnemonic phrase that unlocks the meaning and truth of being. We all do. It is in the language. And I know this mnemonic has become haunted by the absence of any sense of higher meaning. I struggle to remember the truth of that meaning. Because once the true meaning is remembered, the mnemonic- language itself - becomes meaningless nonsense. Who cares about Roy G Biv when you are in the Real Presence of the Rainbow? 


May 22, 2018

I was washing the dishes and a small soap bubble rose out of the bottle and floated around my head in the kitchen. I ignored it. When I finished the dishes, the bubble was still floating around. I watched it as I drank my coffee. It just hovered. I called Jennifer in to see the bubble. She was not impressed. The bubble was acquiring a personality to me. It seemed playful, persistent in lingering around me - like an old dog. After 5 minutes or so, it wandered off into the living room. I followed it, curious. Then it just floated around for over 10 minutes. I went to get my phone and film it. Was still there. Made me happy to just stand there and watch it float around. Suddenly, it was gone. I told Jennifer it was strangely moving. She said, your butt is strangely moving. Good way to start the day. Also gave me a chance to try out some new video software. 



May 20, 2018

On Richard Williams, a teacher and mentor from high school.

Seems like there should be a place where current Greenhill students could retreat to, a kiosk in a remote corner of the campus (if such exists anymore), where they could go to see a film loop of Delgado stopping the bull with a neurological implant while listening to a Navajo chant and read a small plaque about general semantics and the legacy of Richard Williams.

I remember fragments of his life. Fortunately, he was my advisor, the one who helped transition to Judaic anomalies after living in Mexico for three years. Paul Roberts’ Understanding English forever shaped my sense of “as long as we still have grammar, we shall still have God.” He recommended Life Against Death by Norman O Brown, Walden Two by B F Skinner, Hans Selye’s work on stress and his General Adaptation Syndrome and Bruno Bettelheim’s Uses of Enchantment. 

He taught his unconventional English course with Roberts (my copy was “stolen” from Greenhill) and S I Hayakawa’s classic introduction to Korzybski’s General Semantics, Language in Thought and Action (my copy is appropriately filled with sex poems from Teri Blum). He taught psychology with Philip Zimbardo’s controversial, Psychology textbook. 

It was Richard Willians who announced to the class one day that taking a shit was one of the most pleasurable occurrences in a person’s day, thus introducing Freud. He taught me first on Milgram’s experiments with authority, Harlow’s experiments with infant monkeys bonding with robots and Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment. And this just scratches the surface. 

For some reason, I believe he worked for the Military conducting classified psychological experiments on monkeys in New Mexico in the 50s - or so he led me to imagine. He was a master of the long con, jokes that took years to tell and whose punch line would surprise you one day like a Freudian slip and you would apropos of nothing laugh out loud, having finally “gotten it.” I know he coached football at Greenhill. He led me to understand the chess like subtleties to the game. 

Conrad. James Agee. Garcia Marquez. Thomas Wolfe. T S Eliot. Borges. All came to me first through him. His sensibilities seemed Augustan to me, although I’m certain he would smile inscrutably at me for thinking so.

Years later, he would indulge me with his company and we’d meet for coffee now and then. I once asked him what he was reading. He said he doesn’t read anything new. He only retreads Conrad - a comment with a deceptive profundity I have only begun to understand as I have become older. His lectures on The Secret Sharer still resonate with me. His Sphinx like smile indicating he knew far more than he could tell us about the secret sharer, that such knowledge at so young an age might unsettle us and ruin our lives. I wish I’d recorded word fir word his lectures on the Heart of Darkness. 

His insights were Zen-like, gnomic. You had to be quick or you would miss them. His dead pan delivery and sense of timing were like an art. He made an offhand remark one day about humor that got me giggling and he turned his Buster Keaton stoic gaze upon me with such perfect aplomb, I burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Without cracking so much as a grin, he used my fit as a “teachable moment.”

He taught me, via Stunk & White that “enormous” is used to indicate not a thing merely large, but also a thing that was a “monstrous wickedness.” And that this was not necessarily a bad thing. I use “enormous” often and think of him with every use. Likewise, as he used Vulgar to refer to the masses - usually gesturing to the bovine students grazing about outside the class widow in the Commons. 

He was an enormous and powerful influence upon me. If my life amidst the Vulgar has any relevance, it is due in a large part to Richard Williams.


***

I have days where I write for 12 hours, others days where I read all day. One recharges the other. Whenever I feel the shovel is hitting rock, I generally stop digging that hole and work on the architecture or polish sentences. I guess in painterly terms, I'm fine leaving blanks and working for a while on the background or figuring out what cards the dogs are going to have in their paws. 

A few weeks ago, I hit a rough patch and just couldn't go for more than a 1000 words. I would go to the gym and do my memory practice on the treadmill for an hour or so - actively engaging and working my mind but not on the book. Usually, as soon as I was done, walking back over here, the way through the thicket would open up. 

I know I'm mixing metaphors here like a Marx brothers. But I find I need several uninterrupted hours a day to get all of my balls into the juggling pattern and once I've got the pattern and rhythm down, I can go for hours. For myself, every aspect of my life is grist for the mill: dreams, chance comments from Jennifer, whatever chapter of Moby Dick I'm listening to at the gym, textual exchanges, all of it feeding into to some kind of rich creative ocean. 

I know I'm on the beam when I am surprised by the hitherto unknown connection between what initially seemed surreal, non sensical, childlike surreal: my hand reaches out for the starfish which becomes an asterisk, a star risk, an ass trick, a donkey tricking his master into believing he can talk, like the dancing frog in the Warner bros cartoon, and now it's Rucio or Dapple the Donkey talking to Sancho but Quixote heats only her haw and watches the stars swim across the sky like fish. I tell myself like a mantra: there are no rules, no laws, you can create anything, a poem unlimited - as long as it can be believed in. 

Often when I wake i tell Jennifer I can't do anything for an hour or so because I want to take advantage of all the dream fuel before it evaporates. All this being said, I also know about every week or ten days I need to drink a bottle of wine and a couple of shots of tequila and play guitar and sing loud and get a little out of my mind. I even look forward to the fevered hangover the next morning - remembering that's how Faulkner liked to peel back his nerves. 


May 19, 2018

The older I get, the more poetry (and philosophy) matter. A while back, I read Philip Roth saying he could no longer tolerate fiction. It puzzled me. But I get it. I once read Everything. Now, I’m only interested in language that becomes radiant under the pressure of death. In other words, books that go well with the ocean (Keats).


May 17, 2018

It's the measure of a great book for me that it continues to unpack, it is constantly reread, remembered. The triad I wrestle with these days: Quixote, Moby, Blood Meridian. Always in my mind. Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop right there. Like I once listened to favorite record albums, I read favorite passages over and over, taking measure, figuring true north, tuning in. As I told you, the world is rich with sign and wonder these days. I take little lightly. I'm convinced there's a part of my brain that's receiving Radio BONE, this deep sensitivity and knowledge of the world that is prior to and only partially containable by language. There's a crowded Mexican bus station in my mind - chickens and goats and grandmothers hanging on the bumpers - but when it arrives in the Land of Language, the only living pulsing creature that gets off the bus is a confused goat. Everyone else with all of their exciting stories and memories got off before the bus crossed the border. I suspect they're sneaking into my dreams. I'm trying to trick them with a form of automatic writing. The "other fellow" who lives in here with me knows all. But he's reluctant to come out anymore. And distrustful of writing in particular because it replaces authentic memory. We all our own private labyrinths. Hex signs on the barns. Mazes on door thresholds to keep the devils out. The question I wonder, as I unspool my thread like a loathsome spider, is if the labyrinth is a sanctuary, protecting me, or if I'm self-deluded, forgotten my blindfold, and have forgotten I'm the Minotaur. The labyrinth was built to contain me and my word horde. As the goat wanders bleating down the winding path.


May 16, 2018

Cleaning the slate. For me there’s the constant alchemical albedo cycle of purification - simplification - grace. And it’s negredo balance of pollution - complexity - not being at home in the world. If I can use it, it’s a prelude to transformation. If not, I return back to where I started. I think every lunar cycle we are given a window where we can either choose to ascend the mountain or self actualization or descend back into who we once were - or remain still to be. 

You can’t go home again. Cannot return to the womb that gave you birth. But the failure to ascend and grow, leaves us standing outside the womb, lonely with no displaced, no home, alienated. No matter how far along the path we get, there is always the danger of fetishizing process, of becoming attached to the skin we’ve outgrown and need to shed. There a period where we are new and vulnerable, where our new skin is so tender and painful. It’s scary and it seems safe to return to the place where we once transformed, to think wearing the dead skin as a protective garmet is healthy. Same as the desire for home. But it’s not. The butterfly has no use for the confines of the chrysalis. Home and where we find place is up ahead. In the end, we find our beginning, right? The alpha is hidden in the omega - and vice versa. The Yin-Yang punchline to this beautiful joke: there never was a birth:death, start:finish, beginning:end. There is only this circling spiral. Contracting towards the center, being enclosed by its own history or expanding toward the infinite, containing multitudes and mystery. Always the flow, the process, until we stop being and just be. Then and only then, we are ready to die. 


May 9, 2018

Just returned from South Padre. I needed to soak in south padre and confront the ghost of my father. So we spent most of our time was down on the Island. We just drove up this afternoon with no agenda, stopping at Bafin Bay and Rivera Beach, then on up and over the North Padre. Drove the Pathfinder out on to the beach at Mustang Island - like you used to be able to at South Padre. Almost deserted. Beautiful. The water aquamarine and warm, amniotic. 

Then slowly driving around Port A, it’s a lot of pasteboard mask covering wreckage: they’ve been working hard to get back to normal, but there’s scores of closed and ruined businesses, a few boats still incongruously placed in the middle of vacant fields, old houses intact except for the absence of one entire wall, creating a weird dollhouse cutaway effect: unmade beds and easy chairs in front of TVs still visible, those obnoxious surf shops missing all the windows and most of their facades, doors half opened like a haunted house. But down on Tarpon Street, where all the bars are, surrounded by piles of debris, they are still drinking strong at Shorty’s Place and Flats. Here and there are loud tourists taking selfies in front of demolished buildings. Locals watch them and everyone seems to be healing from a broken heart. 

***

On FringeWare: When people asked what kind of bookstore we were, I often answered that if you were to draw a circle around other bookstores, the interior represented the most common understanding of the world - beliefs to comfort the herd - mental bread and circuses. So FringeWare was everything outside that circle, eccentric - representing a world view that rejected the predigested pablum if the herd. 

We worked to have 360 degrees of representation, from left to right, from the outlaws to the cops. We weren't always successful but I knew we offered a lot information that wasn't necessarily censored, but was difficult to find. I always think of Neil Postman's distinction between Orwell and Huxley. Orwell's 1984 used censorship and prohibitions, while Huxley's Brave New World simply buried the truth in a sea of trivial and superficial data. The internet is Huxley's nightmare. The FW philosophy, in my view, was to provide tools to fight against the belief that they don't have to give you the right answers if they can get you to ask the wrong questions. 



May 1, 2018

Versing and Reversing, plowing the ground of the book under again, new rows, spreading new seed out amidst green starts. It’s a lot of work, but I will learn. 

The problem, I know, is taking myself too seriously. But not wanting to be a comedian or a clown going for the easy laugh. The solution is in approaching all of life as the great comedy, not just the day to say acts-idents. The cosmic joke is too big for any one of us to understand, but we still know it’s funny in the end. The punch line is not our death; the punchline is our life. The imperative, the difficulty, is to live laughing. Our merely being here is funny - a monkey with glasses, wearing a business suit, typing out all of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Life is beautiful in spite of itself. I’m reversing my verses to make them smile.


April 27, 2018

I've been working in poetry and prose to dig down deep into my Texas childhood, opening old wounds to make the language vulnerable to memory. The philosophy I usually weight my language down with seems like a nervous gambler's "tell" - signaling what I know is a weak hand. I want to steer clear of the big mountains and explore more of these "backyard hallowed moments" - hear my words ring true like hammers on the heart. It’s not easy and conjures up a lot of emotion. And maybe in the end only I will know the esoteric meaning, the actual reference points. But even then, it is important still for me to express and contain even a small fraction of these “sacred” personal memories. Otherwise, once I am gone, so are they. Language has always been a container for memory. But I’ve resisted gathering up our mutual memories into language. It never felt right, until now. 



April 25, 2018

Texas is providing a shelter - the Home of the Dead Writer. San Antonio on Valentino Avenue. It’s been a good place to pass the winter, gather wool, and work on a book. 

The fine Mexican-American Kings of the neighborhood are always inquisitive as to what I’m building in here. I emerge like a mole and shake my fist at the sun. But I’m getting good work done. 

The working title is, “The Longest Suicide Note Ever Written.” I will most likely be in Bham around July to scatter the ashes of my mother, stepfather, 7 dogs and 3 cats. 

I’m tempted to head to Maine to apply for a job as a solitary path maker in a densely forested wilderness and live in a replica of Thoreau’s cabin. So don’t place any bets on my horse. 



April 14th, 2018

The Lake in East Texas. I’ve long had this vision of the profane process of making words from thought. The rendering process of language analogous to a Mill, where seeds are ground to flour - sounds cracked open and the living spirit is turned to dust of words. I’ve dreamed of this Miller when I was a child and my Grandfather took me fishing at the Mill Pond, the ruins of an old mill still visible at the spill off. But I’ve also dreamed of his daughter who can hear the unspoken language of leaves and water and frogs and crickets. She is a mystery to me. A potent erotic presence with a primal innocence. I have struggled to come to terms with her. I’d be sitting in the boat with my grandfather dreaming of her and her father, of how when I was older I hoped we’d fall in love with each other. Gazing upon the ruined mill, imagining an impossible future. 

***

I generally abstain from sharing political opinions. With the limited currency of time I have left in this world, I'd prefer to spend mine on Plato, Dante or Shakespeare. 

Those are also areas I'm confident of a certain knowledge, whereas I can make no such claim about today's political climate. 

However, I don't think it takes much insight to see that there are three idols to whom almost all politicians bow down to: Money, Power and Fame. The corrosive effect of all three has been endemic to politics since the time of Julius Caesar. But I believe we are in a particularly acute instance of corruption. 

In the case of a president, I do not believe anyone can attain that position without being bought and owned in some manner. 

There's a West Wing TV fantasy that a man of unimpeachable integrity with a Christ like goodness in his heart should be president. I don't believe that sort of person should ever be president. Or can be. I also don't care if a man (or woman) enjoys fucking donkeys in the privacy of their own home. There are too many enduring works of art, book, painting, etc that were created by ugly, difficult, assholes to judge a person's efficacy as a public figure by their private behavior. 

I'm also aligned with Thoreau in believing that  government is best that governs least. I believe in an Emersonian self-reliance. Government should be the last resort for assistance. And asking for the government to help you live should feel like you are being sent to prison - a last resort and a willingness to sacrifice certain freedoms. 

I believe the Law of the Wolf is over the Law of the Lamb. The country is crippled by a herd mentality. 

I figure that's enough for you to see where I'm coming from. So the answer to your question is, Yes, I do believe someone like Trump should be president, a person fluent in the back stabbing snake pit world of money and power, some who knows exactly what they are selling when they are being bought, someone who is not afraid to speak aggressive and intellectually informed truth to power. Trump sells himself as this sort of person, but he is unable to fulfill his own promise. Unfortunately, his small mindedness and intellectual weaknesses handicap him and severely limit his effectiveness. Because of this, he will do more harm than good. At best, he will swing the pendulum so far out it will energize and equal and opposite response. We'll see. Apathy endures. 

I'm not a Republican or a Democrat. I'm not Conservative or Liberal. Those terms have been emptied of any significant meaning. I do not believe Hillary was a better choice than Trump, nor Bernie. They are all soulless and corrupt. 

In the Meno, Socrates discusses the idea of arete, most commonly translated as virtue. I actually don't believe we have a word for what arete meant to a Greek, perhaps self-excellence. But when Agamemnon takes Briseis away from Achilles, Achilles considering this a transgression upon his honor, refuses to fight until Agamemnon makes it right. Many warriors die, including his best friend, Patroclus, due to Achilles refusal. But regardless, Achilles was said to embody arete, self-excellence. He was adamant according to his own beliefs, insisting upon living and dying according to his own inner laws. 

I would like to see a president who had arete, whose speech was mirrored in acts, who wasn't a hollow man, another wizard of oz working with a team behind the curtain. But if Politics is oil, the man with Arete is water. 

The Mountain Men got sick of the hollow duplicities of this world, the lies of men in power, the folly of war, senseless death and headed into the mountains to live by a higher, harder law of survival. 

The early Desert Fathers, disgusted with the power and hypocrisy of the Church headed into the desert to live in solitude, more purely, isolated from temptation and closer to their sense of god. 

I feel like Diogenes looking for an honest man in a dishonest world, asking Alexander the Great to just move his shadow so I can continue to read. 




April 11, 2018

I’m acutely aware of the increasing velocity of time’s passage. There’s the natural sense of relativity, at 50 years of age, one year is a small fraction of time than it was at 10 years age - when it seemed forever. But it’s more than that. There’s a natural desensitization or habituation to the world, to what we know and experience. We are no longer innocent, the rising of the sun and bloom of the flower are no longer new. Here is the depth to Ezra Pound’s famous adage to poets: make it New! But our brains are wired to make it muscle “robot” memory: riding a bike or driving a car takes no thought. But what about teaching a class or kids the person you love. That unfortunately also becomes old hat. 

Music and poetry are the only experiences I’ve found that are resistant to this mental habituation. And by this I mean mostly classical and jazz. For me, the act of memorizing has opened up hidden dimensions with the interior of poetry - like a secret room. But the practice of memory, which is another way of saying the practice of being fully present in the moment (of making each instant memorable), this has made me painfully (sorrowfully) aware of how much of my life is “held” in memory - in this electro-chemical storm contained within my skull. 

My parents live in these memories, Grandmother and Grandfather. Their memory is still alive within me. Muff barks and Cricket and Angel run around with Mitten and Patch and Mookie still waits for me to come home from school. But when I die, if I haven’t expressed it, left some created artifact of it, it will be diminished, you’ll be the only one left who remembers. And is that it? It seems these lives should be more memorable. 

But why? Does it matter? Does Mom’s monkey imitation at the dinner table matter? Does the smell of Grandad’s cigar. The taste of Gran’s scrambled eggs in the breakfast room on Inwood before school? 

When I was last in Chama Canyon, camping alone, I passed many days watching the river flow. All my memories, all human being, flowing away. I’m not ready to let go, detach from my memories, but I could feel the pull of that flow, tugging away at them. My name and face. Tuning into to the primal uncreated hum of the Universe, time fades away. But now, back here in the world, there’s a tremendous urgency to express this most essential thing within me. 

Every moment is a gift. I’m grateful for every new day I still have to live and write. I’m extremely aware of how fragile and precarious it all is. So many I know are dead or dying, sick or suffering, lost in exhausted dramas, deadend jobs or relationships. I may be poor and have no prospects for the future, but I have health of mind and body and the freedom to write. 

It’s a challenge to gracefully accept the true gifts of old age: the wisdom of perspective and philosophical equanimity, to know this too shall pass: the passion and heart break of young love, those enterprises of great pitch and merit that go awry and never come to fruition, the broken dreams of hope. To grow old and be at peace that the blazing fires have died down, at peace because you know now - finally - you can use the bed of glowing embers to cook and create, to illuminate not like lightning but like a setting sun or a distant star. 

It all be gone soon. 

The memory of our names and faces, our family, but I have great faith that love will endure, nameless and unknown, but enduring nonetheless. 



April 2, 2018

I'm always hesitant to talk about my world when it is good for fear of jinxing it all. But I figure April Fool's gives me a pass. It's been many years since - and perhaps never before in this way - I have had such a strong sense of creative control and understanding of where I'm heading. It's a Mountain that I've spent my entire life training to climb. And now that I'm on it, the summit, though distant, is clear in sight. I know there will storms and setbacks. I've trained for these also. I've got three months to get from here to there. I'm already higher than I've ever been. Outwardly, I have no job, no prospects, no insurance, no net, no safety, no idea what will happen at the end of few months. I wonder about those climbers of Everest who face the choice between continuing on to the summit in bad weather and dying on the Mountain or turning away before reaching the top to head back down and stay alive. I doubt my Mount Analogue has the same extreme consequences but in many ways the book I'm working on seems at times to be the longest suicide note ever written. I take great delight in this notion. 


February 21, 2018

Still in San Antonio. 

Working to help Jennifer prepare for a big Rock Memorabilia Sale on March 3rd in Austin. Mostly artifacts from Margaret Moser. But there are additional collections from Joe Nick Patoski (Stevie Ray Vaughn, Willie Nelson), Ed Ward (Rolling Stone, NPR)  and Grant Alden (No Depression Magazine). It's an interesting distraction: researching old vinyl, cds, posters, comics. 

I've been adamant about not looking for any other work. I imagine I will have to find something in March. We've got this place here in San Antonio until the end of March. Afterwards, Jennifer is heading out on her own. I may go down to South Padre to see if I can live in a minimal manner on the beach - north part of the Island, away from bars and crowds. May go to Austin, sleep in the jeep, spend my days at the UT libraries writing. 

That's all I really want to do: keep writing, working on the Jonesiad, the life and times of Charles Jones. I have a sense - have had for a long time - that I have to risk everything in order to feel the language has a life to it. I have no idea of where I will be more than two weeks away. All I know is that I must say this thing, finish this book, before I die. No job, no home, no security, no future, no insurance, no net. But it seems only under these conditions of living so close to the bone, only under these conditions do I feel most authentic - for lack of a better word.

My recent bout of illness, which debilitated me for nearly the entire month of December, reinforced to me how fragile my enterprise is. And it only added to the sense of urgency I have about completing my creative projects. There is no more time. And if there is, it is always on thin ice. Writing as a man condemned to be hanged in the morning, with penetration and clarity, with that focus, that here upon the precipice of annihilation, I know exactly what I want to say. So in the time I have left - be it twelve hours, months, years - there is nothing more important. And so I insist upon my own peculiar genius to the point of insanity.

Some well meaning soul pointed out to me that Loew's is having a nationwide hiring day, said I should go down and see about finding some work. I can imagine few things more desperate and sad than standing in the inevitable lines with all the poor out of work schmoes who have been hounded out of their easy chairs by their nagging wives to go find a job wearing an orange vest and helping customers find the right screw. I envision mostly sloppy variations of either the hang dog Gil Gundersons from the Simpsons or the posturing Zapp Brannigans from Futurama  (or Bartelbys and Willie Lomans) milling about in the rainy parking lot, drinking weak coffee out of styrofoam cups, waxing philosophic about such pleasing conversational topics such as Gun Control, Immigration and the Middle East. And what must it be like for those poor wretches who are NOT hired? Out of the entire cesspool of dubious talent, you were not chosen. That would be rough. Of course, I'm sure I would be one of those deemed unworthy. 

I am interested and amusingly detached from my own fate. I am curious to see what will become of me as I hurtle along with ever increasing momentum towards rock bottom. I am sure I will figure something out. It sure seems that there must be some way for someone possessing a modicum cleverness to survive requiring only the barest of minimums from the world. 

The water pump on the jeep went out. I hope to replace it this week. But my sense is that the jeep is on its way out. 200,000 miles. It's worth still throwing money at because it is also my home. But I may be making the shift to motorcycle or bike soon. As I said, I am interested and amused to see what happens to myself. Regardless, If I can find a dry hole in the ground, a good gym and an excellent library, I know I'll be fine. 


February 5, 2018

Better. But not the same. Diminished from what I was before. Perhaps this is just old age. The thousand Lilliputians having had time to secure their ropes around me, I feel the quicksand drag of the grave. Having stumbled a few steps in, its dark gravity has me in its orbit. Maybe there will be no more easy days where it feels natural to be happy and hope is at hand, maybe now I've gone beyond the pale and from now on it'll be a fight from the first ache of awakening until the resigned defeat at end of day. I dramatize in extreme. But my thoughts recycle this play over and over. Although I've been sick before, it's strange to feel you'll never be quite who you were before. 

Something to the daily ritual: you get up every morning, somehow remind alive, go to sleep every night. Repeat. I imagine it's difficult to think of doing anything else when that's all you've known. No one teaches us how to die. How to just stop doing what we've always done. Everyone just mills around the station, not knowing which train to get on, not sure if they even have a ticket, occasionally wondering how they ended up here. Wasn't there something else they were once doing, more important than waiting here in the station? 


January 22, 2018

Jerry is in hospice. On a morphine drip. It’s the end. Only a day or two. Of course, it’s not unexpected. But the stark brutal presence of death always overwhelms. You’d think I’d have become adjusted to the weight of it. But sitting here with Death like a non reflective black stone mass in my mind, my thoughts are banal and unremarkable. Music sounds generic. Poetry, an intolerable nursery rhyme. Pop goes the weasel over and over feverishly, the jack in the box long sprung, hanging there like an old man’s nose. Philosophy is the only consolation. Plato’s reduction that in the end the only reason for philosophy is to teach us how to die. But there’s a Sisyphian tedium to thinking with Death breathing his rattling breaths so close. He wasn’t my father by blood, only by the heart. I made my peace with him before I left. Nothing special. Shook his hand. See you later, Jerry. 

Now I’m wrestling with an archetype: this absent loner / Philosopher / king with no kingdom / wanderer in the Waste Land figure I’ve searched for all my lifetime and have come to embody in the way a scarecrow does for a man. 

O Death. Comes down the road in a threadbare suit, broken brimmed hat, shoes with worn down soles, riding that sorrowful Rocinante, stops and stares at the scarecrow for a long while. The horrible  emptiness of that gaze. Just act dead, I think from inside those eyeholes, and maybe he’ll pass on by. There’s an old man waiting, dreaming the last of his last of his life. Move on for a bit longer. These thoughts turning with every other in this black gravity. Coffee cup. Spoon. The water damaged pages of a book. Dust on the fretboard of the guitar. All my pens empty of ink. 


2017


November 21, 2017

I've been in Tucson, spending time with Jennifer and doing some work cleaning and painting apartments. Jennifer's sister lives here, manages a local restaurant, The Blue Willow. The owner of the restaurant has several properties around town and offered me a place to stay in exchange for fixing up the apartments. I considered staying here for the next few months - desert blue skies, temps in the 80s, hard work appreciated - but there is a generic mass cultural malaise here that discomforts me: Tucson is a run-down Ikea city, looks solid but won't endure a good hammering, lifestyles that only require one hex screw tool to disassemble and seems as if they would dissolve into mush under a judgmental rain. Additionally, the University of Arizona library feels like the Gerard Manly Hopkins DMV: 

And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; 
    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell

So I'm headed down to San Antonio - Austin. Hope to stay there through the Winter. Waste away some hours at the Ransom Center pondering Ezra Pound's meat cleaver, Sylvia Plath's oven mitt, Wallace Stevens' life insurance policy. Will have to find some manner of gainful employment, hopefully not too soul destroying. The plan is to uncover a few friends who are willing to allow me to park in front of their houses periodically. Pull up in the jeep around 9 pm, slip into the back to sleep, wake up at 6 am and drive to the gym to shower, shave, workout, steam and sauna, then head to the library to write until I have to go to wherever I might be working. I'm down to my last $500. Work here will get me another $500. Will last me until Texas and mid-December. I figure If I can live close to the bone, save up 3 or 4 thousand, I'll hit the road again in April, keep my mind working in University libraries, my flesh working on local gyms, my soul pure in the high mountain atmospheres and deep desert canyons. 

I realize now I wasn't in good enough condition - the phrase is apt - to endure the solitude I have been seeking. I'm in much better shape now, each day like a whetstone, time sharpening my formerly dull edge. I hadn't figured on how when the god asks you to bring him a cup of water and you go to river and you refuse to save the drowning dog or woman or child and you make sure you've got enough water to give to all the thirsty burning souls you meet on the way back, I didn't understand you've got to also remember your own thirst and burning flesh.  After all that, I ended up just pouring the water over my head and drinking it all down long before I even got close to the exit I was looking for. From what I can see from here, the path back to the bones of the waiting god, the way onward is ever deeper into, and then through, pain. 

I was watching the Ken Burns series on Vietnam and was fascinated once again by the images of the Buddhist monk, Quang Duc, burning in the fires of self-immolation. The unimaginable intentionality and discipline there. The incarnation of profound allegory. The indomitable will of such endurance. I wonder often over what singular diamond like thoughts were concentrated in Quang Duc's mind. What mantra? What prayer? What emptiness?

So as not to end on fire and emptiness, I'll mention that I watched the Jimmy Stewart film, Harvey, the other night. I saw in it an allegory for belief, for the ghost of god that animates my haunted world. There's an uncanny wisdom to it. It's like a zen parable. I particularly enjoyed this passage:

Elwood P. Dowd: "Harvey and I sit in the bars... have a drink or two... play the juke box. And soon the faces of all the other people they turn toward mine and they smile. And they're saying, 'We don't know your name, mister, but you're a very nice fella.' Harvey and I warm ourselves in all these golden moments. We've entered as strangers - soon we have friends. And they come over... and they sit with us... and they drink with us... and they talk to us. They tell about the big terrible things they've done and the big wonderful things they'll do. Their hopes, and their regrets, and their loves, and their hates. All very large, because nobody ever brings anything small into a bar. And then I introduce them to Harvey...."



October 15, 2017

Still in Santa Fe. Anticipate being here until the end of October. I may spend the winter here. Writing a lot. Been spending my days at the downtown public library and the Museum of New Mexico, researching, as always, the sonnets and the history of the Piedra Lumbre Land Grant - which encompasses the Chama River Canyon. 

About 50 years after the Salem Witch Trials, there was an outbreak of "witchcraft" in Abiquiu (1756-1766) and a subsequent series of Witchcraft Trials. In truth, the native peoples, the Genizaro Indians, were merely practicing the ceremonies and rituals of their native religion. Of course, to the zealous catholics, this was witchcraft. It was also a convenient excuse to disrupt the native peoples' settlements and lay claim to the land they occupied. Nevertheless, its a fascinating history of oppression, religious sublimation, syncretism and supernatural belief. 

I recently have moved from the downtown area out here to the Meem Library at St. John's College just east of Santa Fe, not far from the SF Institute. I've always thought I should've gone to St. John's. With their rigorous focus on the Liberal Arts, deep engagement to the primary and foundational texts of Western culture, I think I would've been a fish in happy waters. Considering it's size, around 65,000 volumes, it's an excellent resource; an elegant selection, balancing the beauty of curated secondary material and depth of primary text, in original language and translation. It's also much more conducive to long term study and meditation. 

The downtown public library is a welcome refuge for the homeless and stereotypical Santa Fe characters: that guy with the silver pony tail wearing an Indiana Jones hat purchased at Urban Outfitters, a tie-die t-shirt, Bermuda shorts and huarache sandals, talking at full volume about his "vision quest" in the "sweat" where he attained a "oneness" with the "First Peoples" and now believes himself to be more of "pure-blood Navajo" than "colonially tainted unwoke White Man." 

At the end of the month, I'll be in Northern Arizona, Four Corners area, then will head south to Tucson. I may head down to Texas by way of Big Bend, Boquillas and Marfa. Will have to figure which way the wind will be blowing then. 


October 1, 2017

"You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know." 

- Rene Daumal, Mt. Analogue 

From Grand Junction to Durango, on US 550, the Million Dollar Highway, through the Uncompahgre Gorge to Red Mountain Pass, 11,018 feet above all human concern except one: to not veer one foot to the right and fall 1000 feet. Considering Lao-Tzu and Yinxi. Thinking Greekly: even the newborn babe is old enough to die. Big thunderstorms as Rip Van Winkle's men of the mountains play nine-pins. At least, I have the hairpin Highway to myself. Finally up on the roof beam if the world,  driving through thick cloud, listening to Frank Muller reading Moby Dick. The sublime beauty  and terror of the Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck: "God hunt us all if we do not hunt Moby-Dick to his death!" Ahead, the highway turns towards Molas Pass, the clouds break apart for a moment and there is a mountain before me. Then it is gone. I get out of the jeep into a howling wind and wait for another break. Looking for the eye of the White Whale as it passes beneath the ship of the world.

In Durango now. Good memories here. The Most Dangerous Game. Elk in the early morning fog in a high meadow. Heading down 84 to the Chama River Canyon, arrange to stay at the Monastery. Will be there or Santa Fe for most of October.


September 18, 2017

I am still in Grand Junction, spending most of my time here in the library at Colorado Mesa University. It's an excellent modern library, three stories with a multitude of tables replete with screens and keyboards. I guess I'm an old school sort. When I first entered the library, I looked around for books. I asked a librarian where the stacks were located. She smiled and told me the books were on the third floor. And so I ascended. The books - which, for me, are the heart of any library take up about a third of the floor space of the third floor. They are all on a movable shelving system that is compacted together. Captain's wheels, as if from a ship, are located on the end of each set of shelves to wheel them apart. Often you have to move a half a dozen shelves to open up the section you need. I spend most of my time in the section that contains PR 2848: the sonnets. Their collection is adequate for a small university. But my own personal collection that I carry with me on the road is more comprehensive. Still the remainder of the collection, overall, is helpful as a reference resource. Since I have a professor's log on, I can print out article from any scholarly journal online. Soon, I imagine, the physical books will also be removed to make room for some new technology. All this being said, I am grateful to have access and a place to sit quietly, read and write. 

As I mentioned in an earlier note, I ran myself a ragged over the last month before arriving here. I am much much better now, feeling back to my "old self," if not in the process of encouraging a new beast of self to emerge from a strange womb. I think anyone striking out for distant lands and new territories - whether they be physical, psychological or spiritual - leaves the place he has been with a sense of having a door opened to a world of greater freedom. For myself, as you both well know, I left a world of great beauty and warmth, of a wonderful job, an inspirational group of friends to travel out into a world of smoke and fire, uncaring and inconsiderate strangers, with no security of where I might sleep from night to night, or no certainty of where I could find the hard and brutal sort of beauty that I was hungering for. Of course, this sort of difficulty was what I wanted. What I still want. But I wasn't entirely prepared for it. 

Allow me to abuse and extend a metaphor here - hopefully not to the point of allegory - but my time in Bellingham seemed to me to be something of a prison. And I am fully aware that most people in the world would have been overjoyed to have exchanged places with me and live in the "prison" that I was in. It was a prison for me in the sense that I believed I did not have the freedom to be myself, this being a curious "blind spot" or personal weakness. As I expressed on several occasions, it was as if I slipped on the Scot Casey suit, zipped on the smile, and performed the role of Scot Casey on the stage that is Bellingham. And the part of myself that was underneath this persona, looking out from underneath the mask, developed a kind of resentment toward how I was living my life. This other part of myself felt as if he were in a sort or prison of self. I will quickly add that I think the character of Scot Casey is a pretty good role. I am comfortable and relatively happy being Scot Casey. In fact, the longer I am in the role, the more acutely I have to re-mind myself that this is not who I believe I truly am deep down underneath. Who I am deep down underneath... it is uncanny, as Freud would have it "strangely familiar," to be self-divided in such as way as to believe you are not who you are named and you are not the face you see reflected in the mirror. (Much of my obsession with the interior, shadow narrative of the sonnets is how they play with the idea of reflection and self, as Narcissus enchanted by the image in the water, or Dorian Gray gazing upon his portrait.)

I find it sadly amusing and too close to home that Sartre used the caricature of the waiter in the cafe to illustrate his notion of "bad faith":

I quote from Wikipedia as summary: "Sartre cites a café waiter, whose movements and conversation are a little too "waiter-esque". His voice oozes with an eagerness to please; he carries food rigidly and ostentatiously; "his movement is quick and forward, a little too precise, a little too rapid". His exaggerated behavior illustrates that he is play acting as a waiter, as an object in the world: an automaton whose essence is to be a waiter. But that he is obviously acting belies that he is aware that he is not (merely) a waiter, but is rather consciously deceiving himself."

Sartre goes on to say that the many who commit "bad faith" as a sort of "mental suicide" do so not so much because they are unable to find meaning in the world, but because freedom, the authentic freedom of being, is terrifying. In the face of such absolute freedom where everything is permitted, it is much easier ("bad faith") to follow an already established set of morals and/or codes of behavior than to invent your own. Yawn, existentialism, right? But nevertheless, eerie in how closely it approximated my mental state.   

I left Bellingham in a kind of hungover daze of celebration for Scot Casey and well wishing, having just unburdened myself of most of worldly possessions and secured the understanding that I may not return for a long while. I unzipped (or thought I did) the Scot Casey suit and threw it in the passenger's seat to keep me company. I was out! The sudden freedom to go anywhere, to do anything, to be anyone was beautiful and terrifying in the cartoon Sartrian sense. 

I felt like a dog that has been kept in a kennel for a long time and the door to the wide world is one day opened for him. He runs and runs in an ecstasy of freedom until he suddenly doesn't know where he is. Everything is new and strange. So, he finds his way back to the kennel and sleeps within his comfortable cage, ever cautious about his further ventures out. And I emphasize here with mystery and laughter: I placed myself in the cage. I was my own jailer. Goddamn me! Why did I do this to myself? Why did I willingly commit an act of bad faith? Why do any of us? Hinduism's Maya. 

I am reminded of the Eliot lines from The Waste Land:

I have heard the key  
Turn in the door once and turn once only  
We think of the key, each in his prison  
Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison

I drove from the oceans around Arcata to the mountains of Northern California as an electrified convict escaped and on the run, hoping to ground myself upon their massive presence, to throw my self against them, step by step upward, willing to blow out my heart in the sheer effort to stand at an utmost point. But then, there surmounted, only to sigh that horrible sigh, and trudge down again in the mind of a suicidal Sisyphus. Beside the fire alone at night, I would pull out the Scot Casey suit as if it were one of my dead mother's coats, still heavy with her scent like a living thing, not putting it back on, but just burying my face in it for comfort. And I just felt detached. Alienated from my self. This dog returns to the kennel to find the door locked against him. (It was during this time that I read Tolstoy's Father Sergius and wondered why he didn't cut off his cock instead of his finger; and, then, understood his surrender to temptation all too well.)

I went a little insane then. Can anyone go a little insane? I traveled up the Pyramid Lake (at my own instigation, Anna), which seemed a hellscape to me, a physical manifestation of the Great Absence. It was a bleak day with black clouds in the skies, sterile with no rain. There were few cars on the road and when I looked into them, they were filled with faces out of an Edvard Munch painting. I pulled into the parking lot at the marina, got out and the air was full of the desiccated odor of piles of corpses. There was no living thing around. The ground seemed ready to break through under my feet. The pyramid rocks I had hoped to see were far on the other side of the lake - or I imagined they were. I was filled with a vague sickness in my head. I just got back into the car and drove into Reno. 

It was there I thought I might shock myself back into a world with meaning and hope. I took several doses of LSD. I should've known better. Famous last words to be found on my tombstone. But too late, I realized the cheap motel where I was staying was infested with drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes. In the chlorine blue light of the pool, all of their faces seemed leering and ghastly skulls. All of my doubts and fears manifested around me like St Anthony in a Hieronymus Bosch landscape. I made it back to the dubious security of my room to lay on a bed that reeked of desperation, sorrowful sex and cigarettes; laying there, eyes closed, sweating through one nightmare after another for 12 hours, contributing my part to bleak palimpsest of the bed. The next morning I turned on the TV and saw that Trump was due to be in Reno later that day. Somehow wretchedly poetic and a clear sign to leave town. 

I traveled deeper and higher into the mountains, the High Sierra, to which King's Canyon is the gateway. I seemed a mad man to myself. I was some form of a daemonic entity going through the motions of being a sane human. Without being able to wear the Scot Casey suit, I was just a protoplasmic mass of amoral energy with just enough awareness to badly fake its way as another human being. The monstrous image in Dorian Gray's portrait stepping out of the canvas into this world, killing Dorian Gray, and then foolishly attempting to impersonate him. 

Upon reflection, it's not cynical or even surprising to say that it is relatively easy for a monster to pass himself off as a human being in this sad fallen world we live in. People rarely look beyond themselves or see through the superficial projection they cast over the other. I hiked into the mountains only to find it populated with more people than I expected. Families, children, young couples. No other solitaries. I got as far away from others as I could, built no comforting fires at night, sat through the night haunted like the Ancient Mariner, gazing upon the stars which seemed only to be mocking me with their ghostly dead light. Perhaps, I thought, all the stars have gone out and all we are left with is this ghostly presence. Someday, maybe sooner than we thought, there would only be a blackness, an absolute darkness, in the heavens at night. And I could not distract myself from this way of thinking. That I was on a Death Trip became an idée fixe , which would end sooner, much sooner, than I expected. The nights were long. I thought only of death. I couldn't sleep for more than an hour at a time. And so I hiked out and left for the deserts around Joshua Tree and the Salton Sea. 

I found an old man. David,  who hosted a traveler's refuge at his house. He lived between 29 Palms and Joshua Tree, down a dusty dirt road and around a few burned out homestead houses built in the middle of the last century, rusted bed springs and busted pot bellied stoves, broken spoked wheels and piles of bottles and cans, detritus of the American Dream. David would let you pay what you could to stay there. I think he could tell I was in deep waters. Told me no one else would be around for the next week. I was welcome to stay in one of the rooms. No AC, but a fan. It was 110 in the day. I took it, unloaded a few things to mark my bed in case anyone showed up. Headed up to the park. 

It was in the strange prehistoric landscape, amidst the sparse forests of those surreal trees, that I first recovered / uncovered a sense of what might loosely be called my sanity. But I felt comfortable and human again, if not entirely myself. I walked far into the desert up there, until after the sun set and the first stars began to appear. Like hope, I thought. And laughed for the first time in weeks. A good joke. 

Most days I was in Joshua Tree I woke up early and drove up to the Park before it got too hot. I tried to figure out what it was about the place that made me feel so much at home. Because it was so hot, there were not many other people around. In the early afternoons, I often saw no one for hours. One afternoon at the height of heat, around 108, I perversely hiked up to the Lost Horse Mine. Only a few miles, but as I walked through that High Desert world, it felt entirely the opposite of Pyramid Lake. And I looked at myself as a different person, who instead of being a passive alien and unwelcome presence in the world, was an active Pulse of Will. I felt graced and fortunate. There walking in the middle of nowhere, walking towards a Lost Mine, it was exactly where I had always wanted to be. In other words, when I imagined myself out in the world when I was in Bellingham - or even in younger days - it was as an old man walking along a path in a place exactly as I was now. 

As I sat in the Joshua Tree Saloon that evening, I knew I needed to find a sanctuary where I could process what had been going on with me since I had left Bellingham. Not a tent in the mountains or the desert or a room in a cheap motel, but a small room near a good library or a university. I wanted to be silent and surrounded by books. I remembered my friend who taught at CMU in Grand Junction and sent her a text. Within the hour, she had found me a tiny garage apartment for a great price and offered full use the library. 

Before I headed to Grand Junction, I ventured down south the the Salton Sea. On a day that was nearly 118 degrees. I drove to Salvation Mountain where the intense heat made my phone turn off after 10 minutes of photos. Then I wandered over the make shift community of Slab City, where I had once considered stopping for a while and staking a claim. I wasn't there long. Long enough to again recognize the lost and desperate, burned-out face of America, the bloodshot glazed-over eyes of trivial avarice and broken, shattered to dust, dreams. The toothless smiles and gravelly cheap cigarette tainted voices full of pathetic little white lies. 

As I drove back to Joshua Tree, a bit of the previous weeks' insanity crept back into me. Even though it was late, I drove up to the park and sat in the jeep, windows open, the engine ticking, reconciling my visions of all of these sublime trees having died off in the next 100 years - which they will - with the sweet and simple fact of their presence now. The next day, I drove out of California into Utah. And then straight across that surreal state to Colorado. I could come back to Utah. 

Once I got settled here in Grand Junction, I established a set of daily rituals. Therapy. Not just going through the motions, but a discipline with which to move onwards, to build a new monster self. 

I found a good deal at a local gym, where I go first thing after I wake up. Then, I come here to the library, write for a few hours. Then walk around campus doing memory work. Back the the library. Back to the room, where I read until I go to sleep. After a week of this, I feel, unsurprisingly, like a new man. Or maybe an older man. But I realize, with much greater clarity, where I am going and, more importantly, who I am now and who I want to become. Thanks to all the dead gods haunting the sky! I hasten to add: I haven't found any great answer and don't even consider the last few weeks to be an extraordinary experience. When I think back on where I've just been, it's all a great foolishness in my mind, an unfortunate waste of valuable time. 

I remind myself of one of Blake's proverbs of hell: a fool who persists in his folly will become wise. And then I also remind myself that I am way too old to be engaging in the profoundly foolish behavior that I recently persisted in. I imagine myself as an idiot Ulysses who is retracing his journey from Troy to Ithaca, not with his crew, but entirely alone. Forgetting Circe's advice regarding the Sirens, he does not bind himself to the mast. Hearing the Siren's song, realizing he is in dire straights, he rows his boat along a madman's meridian, insane from the singing desire for death ringing in his skull. At a point of utter exhaustion, he finds himself thankfully in the midst of the relative safety of Scylla and Charybdis. 

It has been the un-covery of these simple rituals of body, mind and soul that have saved me, bound me to the mast, and continues to provide clarity and meaning, passage through, this insane nightmare of a world. Ha ha. Another good one. 

I will be here in Grand Junction for another week, working to make some headway on my funhouse mirrors analysis of the Sonnets and some other creative work. Then I will be in Santa Fe, hopefully to house-sit for a month (with pay) through October. After that, I'll most likely head north to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert and the Chama River Canyon. 


September 13, 2017

Sanctuary here. Dalton Trumbo in his tub just outside the best dive bar in Grand Junction. One more week to get strong enough to carry the old man back up the mountain. 

Working on doing what I can to make a blasphemy of the Sonnets.

Headed next to Moab, the land just short of the  Promised Land:

Jer. 48:26 "Make her drunk, for she has defied the LORD. Let Moab wallow in her vomit; let her be an object of ridicule. 

Jer. 48:28 Abandon your towns and dwell among the rocks, you who live in Moab. Be like a dove that makes its nest at the mouth of a cave.


September 4, 2017

It's not difficult to find solitude, but it's difficult to remain within it. I think the need for the other, for love and friendship, is as basic and essential as hunger. Social Media is junk food, superficial with little nutritional value for the soul. It's a ultra-convenient tool that has its function, at times critical. 

When I am out here alone, dwelling within solitude, I carry with me the voices of all those I love. I laugh with them, argue, resent their judgements, work to gain their praise and make them happy. And much of the meaning of my life is woven with the presence of these "voices". 

It's a commonplace: we all are acting to an audience inside our head. But then, after a time, it gets quiet. I look out into the audience and realize no one is out there. I'm alone acting on the stage for no one. And I stop performing. Just sit on the edge of the stage, remove my mask, stop talking. Now what? And it's here that I believe, at least for me, that the work, The Work, begins.  

You know all too well how this world works to seduce, entertain and distract, to commodify - to even commodify dissent. I am suspicious of any thing that gets between my self and primary experience, that attempts to mediate my experience, to translate and reshape it, to tell me what I experienced with my own being. And further, that works to distract my attention towards its agenda, to contextualize my values in its terms. 

When I'm on Facebook, I have a sense of being a stranger, of being marginalized, of being excluded. And I'm delighted by this uncomfortable sensation. I walk into that room, say hello to a few friends and leave. For those who are comfortable in the particular mediated realm, I'm happy for them. It just doesn't work for me. I don't trust it. I lie to it and feed it false information about myself. I try to use it and nit be abused by it. Towards this end, it functions as a way for me to let family and friends that I am alive and where I am. I've curated my feed to consist mainly of news sources and close friends. And I go off grid as much as possible. Turn off the phone. Stop gazing into the black mirrors, the screens. It's extremely seductive. It's never easy. 

But I know, for myself, I need the face to face primary experience of god, for lack of a better word, in order to continue to live meaningfully in this world. And why would I allow anything or anyone to mediate that for me, right? I know the meaning of my life. I'm not searching for that or any other answers. 

But what I do want is to live that meaning. All the time. All day permanent red. I'm kind of systematically deranging my senses out here, embracing a cultivated insanity. And there are days where everything is charged with meaning and day's where everything is utterly banal and superficial and empty. I need to stop moving for a while. 

Some friends who are professors at Colorado Mesa University found a garage apartment I can stay in for a few weeks in Grand Junction. I need a place to write and be left alone. But not alone out here in the Wilderness, alone amidst others, like a sick wolf who hides his illness under the skin of a dead sheep. 


September 3, 2017

"And you see, both of us were right, though nothing
Has somehow come to nothing; the avatars
Of our conforming to the rules and living
Around the home have made—well, in a sense, “good citizens” of us,   
Brushing the teeth and all that, and learning to accept
The charity of the hard moments as they are doled out,
For this is action, this not being sure, this careless
Preparing, sowing the seeds crooked in the furrow,
Making ready to forget, and always coming back
To the mooring of starting out, that day so long ago."

- Ashberry, R.I.P.

In Vegas for the night. Leaving early tomorrow morning for BLM land east of Zion. Moving quickly across Utah. Will be in Grand Junction, Colorado for a week or two while I finish some writing. I am friends with a couple of professors at Colorado Mesa University. They helped me find a garage apartment to hole up in. Ghost of Dalton Trumbo lives there. 

God, I hate Las Vegas. It's the lowest hole in the sewage drain of America, the richest and most refined concentration of waste. The reification of the Slough of Despond.

I often recite the Merton passage from Thoughts in Solitude to myself and, while the association has faded over the years, Vegas occasionally signals in these lines: 

So the man who wanders into the desert to be himself must take care that he does not go mad and become the servant of the one who dwells there in a sterile paradise of emptiness and rage.



August 12, 2017

Down from the deep mountains of Humbolt Co. Worked a week at the farm. Not my scene. Good to see my friend Ashley. But discussions of Pagnol's Water of the Hills and Thoreau fell on stoned deaf ears. Made some quick money. Now I'm at a free hike-in tent site, Flint Ridge, up on the coast in the redwoods overlooking the Pacific. Just south of Klamath. Beautiful. Will be here for a few days. While I'm alone, I'm still searching for a deeper sort of solitude. I imagine it's up there in the high sierras. Someplace inhospitable and desolate. Difficult with that kind of beauty that seems as if it wants to annihilate you, like one of Rilke's angels. 

The quality about many of the Greek tragedies that has always surpassed me is the sense that human beings are an alien, even undesirable, presence in the world. The gods play horrible games with Oedipus and Antigone and Ajax - or what to us seems horrible or a game. Perhaps there is something to the notion that those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. 

I've always reconciled this with Koestler's gloss on McLean's analogy of our triune brain: we are evolutionary mistakes, lacking the necessary mediating structures between the reptilian, paleomammalian and 
neomammalian, that we are, essentially, crocodiles riding horses carrying machine guns.

The "gods" - however they might be defined in terms of western culture - are completely justified in thinking of the human as an unwanted presence. We are creatures capable of appreciating the beauty of a Chopin nocturne performed in the evening by musicians who will be sent to the gas chamber the next morning. 

This world inside my head doesn't match up with the chubby families in RVs and old couples steadying each other on the trails down to beach, the young girls unselfconsciously taking endless selfies and young boys that run into the ocean full of energy and joy like wild colts. Even the burnouts and tweakers, the wannabe pornstars, aging dancers and 9 mm posturing pimp dealers seem sadly sweet and soft, pearlescent tender catfish underbellies of the American Dream. There's nothing Greek out here at all. There's no gods, no chorus, no pro or antagonists. It's all a mumbling grey crowd huddled together in The Waste Land. Eliot as an Old Testament prophet. If men were hollow in 1920, how much more empty are they in 2017? Ephemeral congregations of second hand smoke, of dying breaths, of long 70 year long anal exhalations. No, there's nothing Greek out here. I don't pretend to understand any of it. My language makes less and less sense. 

But I do believe - insist - in a real presence, a transcendental ground upon which hope can stand - no matter how violent such a standing is. It's worth living for. It's worth dying for. I contemplate this difference with an increasing sense of equivalence. 

In this way, I entertain the idea of this being a death trip. I'm certain with my hunger for increased isolation and deeper solitude that the risk of something life ending happening to me is much greater than it's ever been before. But it's not an accident that concerns me. I think each of us has an unalienable right to end our own life, in any way that we see as being proper and fit and righteous. I've seen too many people I love die like sad creatures, shivering sacks of flesh draped over shaking bones, hooked up to tubes and sensors in sterile hospitals. Who wants such an ignoble death? But you never get to choose. Disease and disability creep up on you and leap upon your surprised frame when you least expect it. And then your sunk, trapped like a creature imprisoned in a skull, no cask of amontillado waiting within. I'd rather go buy a dozen steaks and a gallon of honey and walk into the woods wearing it as a dripping meat suit to enchant death out of the shadows. Let me be devoured by a bear or wolves rather than a health and human service worker with a fixed frown of pitiable empathy or the hundred sad pats of affection from distraught friends come to bid the tearful farewell. Give me the fanged roaring mouth of a grizzly as he gnaws my brains from my skull. Or the wolf ripping the laughter out of my throat. Extreme. Unlikely. 

But, there is a hallowed sanctuary up the Chama River canyon, where others have been buried, I think it would be a fine and private place to slit my own throat and bleed out under a dying sun.

Don't get alarmed. I doubt any of you will. There's time. Even if this is a Chama Canyon Death Trip, there's much to do before I get there. I've got some spiritual currency to spend before I make that last hike up into the canyon.

But it's liberating to know death is not so far away and will meet you at the time and place of your choosing. 

For now, it's a sweet old world. Like the Lucinda Williams song. There's a poetry to things, an aura of myth. I wish I were as strong as those that are able to be immersed in the antic hay of the daily drama and still spin gold out of it. I'm not strong in that way. But out here (as he un-ironically writes upon the sapphire glass of an iPhone), it as home as home get for me: displaced, nomadic, unhoused, strange, lone (not alone), breathing pure freebased uncut freedom. 

I'm sure the gods have a horrible game for me to enact. Maybe for all of us to enact. I tune the inner strings of my soul to the mythic travelers: Odysseus, Orpheus, Aeneas. There's a difficult, dissonant chord to sing to. With complete and utter amor fati, sitting here beside the fire above the Pacific, I figure what lies before me is a sort of underworld. I'm sick to death of all of this. But I'm addicted to beauty that is unsealed from the sorrow and the mystery of what has been unsaid. I'm hoping to meet a Sphinx out here, out there, somewhere in the High mountain passes or under the burning sun of the desert. I've been close before but never really was ready to die. 


June 14, 2017

At the gym. Had to put the jeep in the shop. Riding my bike back from Meridian Tire earlier today. Feeling a little despondent about the trip and my finances. And then I received an email from Renaissance magazine. They want to use my translation of François Villon's Ballade de Bonne Doctrine a Ceux de Mauvaise Vie. And they're going to pay me some money for it! My translation is at the very bottom of this post I wrote, titled "Booze and Bitches Just Fuck You Up." It's essentially a spasm of effrontery. But it delights me to end that it will be published in a scholarly magazine on the Renaissance. I've got to host open mic this evening. On the road in the islands all day tomorrow. 

To be honest, my "translation" was an off the cuff spasm of effrontery, an offensive coda after having spent far too long with the staid and stuffy versions, excepting Henley. That being said, it delights me to no end that Renaissance Magazine saw fit to publish it. Reminds me of those art shows filled with paintings by monkeys that all the critics hail as genius. And I likewise delighted to be in any way associated with our mycelial overlords.


May 31, 2017

John Perryman asked me: What's your top five list of places where you've read books, what were the books, and what made the experience unique?

My answer:

In quasi-chronological order after 1.5 bottles of wine:

The first few Conan books by Robert E Howard and the first of the Tarzan books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Read on Princess Lane in Dallas, Texas. Given to me by Mark Mechler. We would roam the woods along Joe's Creek like barbarian apemen, refusing to wear shoes, only deigning to wear bluejean cutoffs, leaping from tree limbs to tree limbs, sneaking out at night to protect the neighborhood from the savage Pict teenaged hoardes who were driving slowly around the block in cars with no mufflers seeking to rape and pillage our families. 

Language in Thought and Action by S I Hayakawa in Mr Williams' classroom. Teri Blum sitting next to me, sending me notes asking if I could get a hard-on at will in class thinking about her. I did. General Semantics and Count Korzybski forever associated with the pink bubble gum teasings of that Jewess. The map is not the territory. The hard-on is not love. 

The Religions of Man by Huston Smith. Mr. Norris, Greenhill. And Moby Dick assigned by DeWolf Fulton. Both changed my life. Both often take me back to a puzzled adolescent mind upon which a dark sun was just beginning to dawn. Turning in a final paper to Mr Norris where I took DMT and tried to reach satori in the work-out shed in the side yard of my parent's house while reading The Gateless Gate. 

Aransas by Stephen Harrigan recommended by Andrew. Read in Austin. Overlayed a mythos of an Austin already gone, but one whose altar I prayed at for almost 20 years. Throw in The Gay Place by Billy Lee Brammer and Dirty Dealing by Gary Cartwright. Throw The Watchmen in here also. Streets names after fairy tales: Snow White, Pinocchio, Peter Pan. Running naked through the oblivious herds. Drive all night. 

The Selected Poems of Ernest Dowson. Sixth Street with Andrew, who insisted upon walking in a straight line, ramming into everyone in his way. I followed behind bellowing lines from Cynarae like a crazed street preacher, hectoring a gaggle of whores we stumbled upon until they ran away. 

The Waste Land by Eliot in London, alongside the Thames where it seemed I understood every word as if it were my own blood dripping from a cut wound. Wordsworth in the Lake District. Baudelaire in Paris. Seferis in Greece. 

Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive. Barton Springs. Books soaked with spring water and sprung open. Posse East at a corner table, my own pitcher of sold Shiner Bock. Aligning cyberspace with my own hallucinations. Allegories of intoxication. 

Blood Meridian by Cormac. Backyard at Princess. Parents moved out. Reading in 110 degree Dallas heat beside the pool. Chlorine dreams. Tequila. Limes. A woman from Belize. A woman from France. 
A woman on the phone. A woman at the front door 2 am I didn't remember. Bottles thrown at me in the kitchen, walking across broken glass to embrace and go fuck in my parent's bedroom. Floating naked in the illuminated aquamarine glow of the pool at night. Threads of blood trailing from between her tan legs under the water. Less Than Zero to American Psycho. 

Perfume by Patrick Suskind. Back of the Sky Blue Freighter pick-up while sleeping in the Greenhill parking lot. Nights at 8.0 with Chip. Greenville Ave Bar and Grill. Demanding the guitar player perform Little Wing. Repeatedly. Waking up with a girl named Brandi who appealed to me partly because of the song and her willingness to do anything I asked of her. Trying to find my way home after a night at the Winedale Tavern, Chip having abandoned me, so drunk I had to wait for the sun to come up to figure where I was and make my way back to North Dallas. Koester's Janus. Wilson's Outsider. William Blake. Hart Crane. Mythohistorema by Seferis. 

Be Here Now by Ram Dass, the Upanishads, the Gita and everything by William Burroughs in the upstairs apartment in Austin with Pilar where we took acid every weekend. The place smelled like sex, warm Shiner Bock, left-over County Line BBQ, overlayed with an ozone hot cum lightning after-burn of knowing it would never last. 

The Modern Odyssey and the Saviors of God by Nikos Kazantzakis at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. Woodburning stove, smell of pinon, red desert earth, starlight, and the faint but haunting fragrance of a godlike creature that was once here but had left long ago. 

Walden read by firelight alone high up in the hills of the Chama River Canyon. Still have the copy with burn marks on the pages from sparks of the fire. I've reread Walden several times since. It is a different book than the one first read up there. 

Shakespeare's Sonnets walking around Lake Padden here in Bellingham, Washington. My mother going insane, losing memory every day. My stepfather not far behind her. I'd walk around the lake and commit two or three sonnets to memory, my canaries in the coal mine of my mind. The day the Alzheimer's Worms started to tunnel through me, the day I could no longer remember a sonnet, would be the day I'd set out to find a cave with bear or a wolf in it. Crawl in that hole and die a beautiful bloody violent death. Still memorizing these days, still watching for the worms. 

More than five. Could go on all night. Give an old man a bottle of wine and a reason....


April 31, 2017

The Salton Sea is a dead lake surrounded by ruins and rotting fish and birds. Too much saline and other poisons in the water. Desolate and evocative. Slab City Sanctuary is nearby. It was 118 degrees of hot Jesus. My phone stopped working after 15 minutes. I am in love with the beautiful intensity of it all. 

I constantly wonder and am on the guard against self deception. At times, I'm just too thought riddled. I think way too much about myself - not in the looking in the mirror or social media kind of way - but as an aspect of divinity, as an insignificant particle of the sacred flow. I'm always suspicious of my self? As if it's a dog who did something shameful and is sitting there looking hangdog with its tail between its legs. I'm asking: what are you up to? What are you trying to hide? But then I have to remind myself to simple live life. To not think about it. To just be a happy dog burying my bones with joy! Who cares if they are gods stolen from gods corpse? So see? It never lasts for long! I wonder if I'm cursed to constantly second guess myself. I wonder will I ever just be? Without all of this..  anxiousness? Cause if this is what the next 20 or 30 years looks like: fuck that shit! I'm just not going to do it! I don't think I'm gonna find any community of like minded souls - Jesus, I'd probably murder them all! But I'd like to set down those roots. So I'm a way I realize I am looking for something. I think I've got to become much stronger with regard to my capacity for solitude.

I want to be at peace with myself in a way that being around other people cannot alter or affect. I want a sense of presence and serenity within myself that is strong and is bound up with my own private sense of ritual and grace. I feel like this is the crux: it's now or never! And I also believe it's something that I've been practicing to do someday for so long, that I already have the skills. It requires no effort beyond the realization that I'm doing it. Everyday I carry the little scared calf across the river, until one day someone points out to me that I'm carrying a full grown ox. So much has to do with believing in myself - in yourself. 

I just have to keep reminding myself that I'm on the right path. Finally. And understanding it's not going to be easy. A friend once said: "I might actually allow myself to be seen". I feel this in my bones. It's like I'm trying to rebuild a fundamental trust between who I really truly am and the world. No more pretending. No more trying to please everyone else. I know it's not easy and the anxiety is suffocating, like suddenly being transported to the bottom of the ocean with no air. But I'm beginning to believe in myself again. And I endure every day to live another. And everyday I'm just trying to get a fraction of a step further. 



April 23, 2017

After so many years, there is an amusing hope that amidst the chaos and everydayness, there has been a practice, perhaps a martial art grounded in everyday acts. Wax on. Wax off. Painting. Mopping. Sweeping. It's tempting to trivialize in a pop-cultural irrelevance. What is important is an intentional practice. A set of rituals performed only for one's self, with no apparent reward or public acknowledgment, acts carried out in private as it were. The practice is it's own reward, hearkening back to the play behavior of children. To be rewarded or even praised for play ruins it, short circuits the autistic feedback loop via the gaze of the other. Once you know an other is watching you practice, you become self-conscious, and lose the natural grace and flow of what you always do when no one else is around. 


So memory. Intentional memorization. I learned early on, no one - very few - wants to hear a poem recited to them, especially one of Shakespeare's sonnets. On the few occasions where someone called upon me to recite, I was immediately self-conscious and often fumbled the recitation. A poem I had perfectly recited to myself a thousand times now clumsy in my mouth. 

Initially, these failures concerned me as being symptomatic of a neurological decline. But I quickly realized as soon as I was alone, the poem was there intact and beautiful, flowing from my heart to my mouth with perfect ease, as natural as breathing. 

For years now, I have engaged in this practice of memorization. Memorization towards no end... at least, such has always been my assumption. However, it has been changing me, shaping my mind, my thoughts, my language in subtle ways. The heartbeat of iambs float more often through my prose these days than they once did before. Analogies of heart and eye, of shadow and dream, of death and time are more magnetic in my mind. Particular words such as "slouching," "buckle," "pluck," "ghastly," "dominion" (and so many more) now ring with deeper resonance, metonymic diapasons of symphonic linguistic dimensions. Rising cumulonimbus thunderheads in my mind. 

As I return to the practice of writing after so many years away, I am aware of this unconscious training. All the years spent reciting, working to memorize poetry and prose, have disciplined muscle and nerve, attuned the ear, allowing me to narrow the chasm that once existed for me between my thought and expression. What will come of this, I know not. However, the feeling of my mental muscles grasping and wrestling with the language is one of the healthiest feelings I've had in a long while. 



From William James' "moral equivalent of war" to Hemingway's injunction to live one's life "all the way up," the vital concern is how to remain awake. And not lie to yourself about what "degree of awakening" you've achieved. It's either / or. You either are or you're not. Whether that be awake in a worldly or spiritual pursuit isn't of concern. I'm sitting here in a chair punching myself in the face like a Charles Bukowski parable, asking: Are you awake? Are you awake now, Motherfucker. Keep punching. 


There's a nice resonance about an internal Watchman on the Tower, alert for fire or warning others to stay away from your shores. But anytime I have ever dreamed of becoming a Kerouacian anti-hero on a fire lookout or Stephen Dedalus in a remote lighthouse (and there's that concerned group that are on the lookout for "the perfect job for you"), but then appears the spectre of the over-zealous managerial mustached supervisor lording over me his one dickless iota of power, raging at me in a passive-aggressive mewing tone of aggreivement over infractions of Kafka-esque rules and policy. How it always ends. It's never All Day Permanent Red. It always shades of a pink and a mauve tired world. Don Quixote is confined to the Dementia Ward of the Nursing Home. Hamlet is given Electroshock Therapy. Ahab is denied a ship and spends his days maniacally hammering white mackerel to pulp on the beach and his nights howling at the bottom of the bottle. Better to become a ship's captain to one day drive full bore into the rocks below the Lighthouse. Or to walk through the Redwoods with a flame-thrower. 



April 9, 2017

Before I went to sleep the other night, I was working on memorizing Melville's Maldive Shark. Somewhere in the night, I started "dream memorizing" it - which happens every now and then. In a sort of half-awake, not wanting to fully awaken state, I will recite a poem to lull myself back to sleep. As the words echoed, I wondered, once again,  if Melville intended the shark to be an ambivalent analogy for what goes in the great blank for the word "God", in the same slippery-fish manner as M. Dick. In the dream, it was suddenly and undeniably obvious the human role with regard to the "pale ravener" was that of the pilot fish, all of humanity shared in this, we were all servant ministers to this lethargic and dull dotard deity, obediently leading it to it's prey, taking shelter in the port of serrated teeth, the charnel of maw. I awoke like Archimedes and quickly scanned the written poem for verification, but the "undeniably obvious" radiant solution to the mystery of the poem had vanished. 

What in the dream seemed the Key to a Great Mystery, the discovery of a great treasure hidden behind the wall of one of Melville's poems, as if the occult face of a being beyond our world was looking up from the inside of the poem as I was looking down from the outside, now, in the light of day, was merely a curious literary insight. These mysteries in dream that defy remembering frustrate and fascinate me. In the dream, I am wielding a burning sword of fire that can cut through the fabric of reality itself; when I awaken, I am only holding the pencil I fell asleep with the night before. 

For in the dream of the Maldive Shark, I knew where to lead the Pale Ravener. I knew what it fed upon, what satisfied its insatiable appetite. I knew what it was and where to find it. 


17 February 2017

The connection is the Absurd. Perhaps the epigraph for the film would be Beckett's quote: 

"Even if God were to exist, he would make no difference: he would be as lonely and as enslaved, and as isolated as man is, in a cold, silent, indifferent universe".

The dramatist and the Giant. The prophet and the disciple. Each has an embittered relation to the Absurd. 

The objective correlative could be a 1946 Chevy pickup, which we show being assembled in a factory by bored mechanized workers in parallel with Andre the Giant's mother giving painful graphic birth to him in the same day. Kenner sells his truck when he moves to New Haven and it ends up being shipped to Paris, where it is purchased by Beckett with money Ezra Pound loans him. 

Chronologically, the McLuhan-Kenner event occurred in 1948. Beckett moved to Coulommiers, north of Paris in 1953. 

But this history is fragmented, shown like pages from a book that has been exploded. 

When the wrestler Andre the Giant was growing up in France, he got to be too large to ride in the school bus. His next door neighbor was Samuel Beckett. Beckett drove Andre to school in his truck. Reportedly, their conversations were mostly about cricket. 

Although it has all the elements of a heartwarming Indy film, I wish someone would make a brutal black and white film of these rides with a bitter nihilistic playwrite and a tortured gigantic teen, both raging against their freakish natures, both growing over time to hate the other for everything they represented.

In Hugh Kenner's Mazes, a Canadian analogue to Borges' Other Inquisitions, he tells of when he and McLuhan took a spontaneous 5 day road trip - at McLuhan's manic insistence - to petition Cleanth Brooks at Yale to take on the young Kenner as a Ph. D. candidate.

Along the way, on 4 June 1948, they stopped at St Elisabeths Hospital in Washington DC to see the "allegedly mad" Ezra Pound. Kenner parenthetically states: "half of my subsequent life was derived from that visit". 

He ends with a memory of McLuhan's mother in the back seat - presumably on a separate occasion- puzzling over the Pisan Cantos. Marshall tells her, "What you have to understand, Mother, is that in the poetry you are used to things happen one after another. Whereas in that poetry everything happens at once."

So now I see the film as a dyptich of Beckett and Andre the Giant, silent, gnomic incarnations of Quixote and Sancho, Laurel and Hardy, George Milton and Lennie Small. A series of small gestures one after another articulating meaning. Filmed in long Tarkovsky takes.

And then this florabundant explosion of McLuhan and Kenner. Everything at once. My Dinner with Andre meets On the Road filmed like a Natural Born Killers or the shower scene in Psycho. The 78/52 aesthetic. An intellectual tour de force that dissects 21st century superficial Frankenstein mind control slavery culture with McLuhan's media razor and Kenner's deep erudition. 

All narrated in mumbling whispers by Ezra Pound shivering in a Pisan cage.



Nov 5, 2016

I once loved beginnings. Starting over, fresh, on a new page, a new book, film, poem, music. The recovery of innocence. The slate is wiped clean. The process has been all too familiar: the path into experience, travels down the wrong roads, off the roads, forgotten time in lost villages, sins committed, failures of self, guilt, resentment, doubt, double thinking, resolutions, confessions, expiations, atonement, purifications, simplifications, rebirth, renewal and the world begins again. Again and again.


I question this cycle. When it is a vicious circle? When it is a hole being down ever deeper, a lie of the mind? When is is an arc on a spiral moving ever outward or ever inward, fractalesque, the loop unfolding infinitely, approximating God?

I get sick of it. Cynical. A tired voice inside my head: this? again? You are a fool.

Ritual becomes anodyne for this cynicism. The redemption of routine time. The boring empty never ending moments that make up the day suddenly charged with meaning, value and time. Those hours spent thinking of nothing now appear as such wastes. Urgency illuminates the fleeting instants of the day. There is never enough time.

And yet, so much is still wasted trying to begin again. Again.

These days, I love endings. Knowing there is not much longer sustains and fuels hope. There is time, just enough, to end it all well. But just barely. 


Nov 2, 2016

I've been obsessed with Mindfulness Practice. It's the most significant change in my life since Memory Practice. Of course, the two are intimately intertwined. As far as memory is concerned, I have been coming up against some obstacles recently. I appear to have plateaued. I am still able to memorize as efficiently as I have before. I can memorize a sonnet in about 20 minutes. My retention and recall of these intentionally memorized poems is still strong. Perhaps it's my Memory Paranoia, but I have noticed my casual, every day memory failing me more often than usual. 

For instance, I was trying to remember the name of the singer, Neko Case, the other day. And it was as if there were a box which had previously held her name. When I went to it, it was empty. I could remember names of songs, the quality of her voice, her physical appearance, but her name escaped me; it wasn't in the box. And so on. I could cite dozens of the instances of casual memory lapse, And  certainly, most of them are ordinary and not the cause of concern. 

When I returned to the Sonnets after an absence of a few weeks, I noted that many of the new ones I had been working on - between 90 and 125 - were hazy phantoms at best. They didn't feel as if they had been impressed upon the tablets of my memory as deeply as earlier sonnets. I grant some of this effect to the sheer fatigue of memorizing 154 sonnets. But I don't entirely believe this. It should be easy to memorize and keep in the memory thousands of poems, songs and prose passages. I do not believe the human mind has many of the limitations we place on it out of culturally inherited habits of assumption. We are capable of much much more than we realize. 

I believe it's my body, my flesh that's holding me back. Since returning from my travels, my diet has been horrible. I have gained too much weight. I have been drinking too much alcohol. I haven't been sleeping enough. I haven't been exercising enough. My blood pressure has been dangerously high. So much so that I have had to take medication to lower it. Medication that affects my ability to concentrate and clouds my memory.

Obviously, something had to give. Most likely, my heart or a blood vessel in my brain. 

While driving down to Seattle to make deliveries for Honey Moon, I was listening to the TED Radio Hour. The episode was called Nudge. It was was about how a tiny "nudge", a small change in behavior, can break us out of our habitual patterns and start a real process of change. I found particularly fascinating the section where Judson Brewer speaks about Mindfulness and addiction. My emphasis.
Now, with mindfulness training, we dropped the bit about forcing and instead focused on being curious. In fact, we even told them to smoke. What? Yeah, we said, "Go ahead and smoke, just be really curious about what it's like when you do."

And what did they notice? Well here's an example from one of our smokers. She said, "Mindful smoking: smells like stinky cheese and tastes like chemicals, YUCK!" Now, she knew, cognitively that smoking was bad for her, that's why she joined our program. What she discovered just by being curiously aware when she smoked was that smoking tastes like shit.

Now, she moved from knowledge to wisdom. She moved from knowing in her head that smoking was bad for her to knowing it in her bones, and the spell of smoking was broken. She started to become disenchanted with her behavior.

Now, the prefrontal cortex, that youngest part of our brain from an evolutionary perspective, it understands on an intellectual level that we shouldn't smoke. And it tries its hardest to help us change our behavior, to help us stop smoking, to help us stop eating that second, that third, that fourth cookie. We call this cognitive control. We're using cognition to control our behavior. Unfortunately, this is also the first part of our brain that goes offline when we get stressed out, which isn't that helpful.

Now, we can all relate to this in our own experience. We're much more likely to do things like yell at our spouse or kids when we're stressed out or tired, even though we know it's not going to be helpful. We just can't help ourselves.

When the prefrontal cortex goes offline, we fall back into our old habits, which is why this disenchantment is so important. Seeing what we get from our habits helps us understand them at a deeper level -- to know it in our bones so we don't have to force ourselves to hold back or restrain ourselves from behavior. We're just less interested in doing it in the first place.

And this is what mindfulness is all about: Seeing really clearly what we get when we get caught up in our behaviors, becoming disenchanted on a visceral level and from this disenchanted stance, naturally letting go.

This isn't to say that, poof, magically we quit smoking. But over time, as we learn to see more and more clearly the results of our actions, we let go of old habits and form new ones.

The paradox here is that mindfulness is just about being really interested in getting close and personal with what's actually happening in our bodies and minds from moment to moment. This willingness to turn toward our experience rather than trying to make unpleasant cravings go away as quickly as possible. And this willingness to turn toward our experience is supported by curiosity, which is naturally rewarding.

What does curiosity feel like? It feels good. And what happens when we get curious? We start to notice that cravings are simply made up of body sensations -- oh, there's tightness, there's tension, there's restlessness -- and that these body sensations come and go. These are bite-size pieces of experiences that we can manage from moment to moment rather than getting clobbered by this huge, scary craving that we choke on.

In other words, when we get curious, we step out of our old, fear-based, reactive habit patterns, and we step into being. We become this inner scientist where we're eagerly awaiting that next data point.

Now, there was something about the simplicity, the obviousness, of his talk that struck me. I knew it was critical to the process of memorization to be mindful, to be present. But not entirely so. It is always shocking to me to realize how much the "robot consciousness" is willing to take over from the mindful consciousness. Often I am surprised to realize that I have memorized a poem robotically, while my mind was thinking of other things. Imagine saying, "The expense of spirit in a waste of shame is lust in action", over and over, almost like a mantra. You drift in and out of being aware of the meaning of it. At times, it is merely a series of sounds similar to when you say your name over and over, knowing that those sounds are the sounds you are known as, but they become strange with each new iteration. All of this is part of the process of Mantra Work. 

And the realization that you have memorized a a beautiful and profound sonnet without entirely thinking about it is unsettling. Of course, the memorization doesn't stick. The sonnet slides down the exponential line of Ebbinghouse's Forgetting Curve. Without Mindfulness, presence, disciplined intentionality, without absorbing the meaning of the sonnet, of entering into the interior architecture or the poem, everything is forgotten. It was never given name and place in the three-dimensional architectural of the Memory Cathedral. 

Allowing bad and unhealthy habits to control my behavior, even the supposedly sacred behavior of my Memory Practice, led to a life-threatening decay of my physical being and a shocking diminishment of my mental being. And I became falsely enchanted, believing the static and noise were part of the music and silence. It has been a familiar vicious cycle. 

Taking to heart the TED talk and with Milo of Croton in mind, I worked to be just a little more mindful and present about my day. Having a Memory Practice helped tremendously. As I re-initiated my Memory Work, I watched for the distractions: a pang of hunger, a slight headache, being out of breath as I walked, a drowsiness before practice, etc. The thousand natural aches, pains and shocks of the flesh. At times, I felt an almost oppressive weight upon my will whispering with insistent voice: stay asleep, what good will it do to memorize a poem, it's cold out, eat more, get drunk, start tomorrow, give up, nothing is worth doing, resign yourself to death. I have felt like this so many times in my life, it is laughable almost to write. It's my peculiar clown dance. 

After Memory Practice, I started logging in an online application everything I ate. It's been a revelation. I had thought I was doing well with sodium intake and was shocked to learn how much sodium was in my normal diet. Then, I started tracking body metrics during day: blood pressure, heart rate, weight, etc. Logging in sleep. Also started tracking income and expenses. Being mindful has led to being in control of diet and health. Which leads to a richer practice of memory. Instead of the negative feedback loop, it is a positive one. What is always amazing / horrifying to me is how it all hinges on an incremental nudges, an internal tipping point from being awake to asleep. And the levels of each: how awake am I? Right now: how aware. More. But not enough. Not yet. Mephistopheles is still Faust's servant. 

If ever I to the moment shall say:
Beautiful moment, do not pass away!
Then you may forge your chains to bind me. 



Oct 25, 2016

The Ghost who no longer haunts but is lost



I imagine Gilbert Ryle would be dismayed at the resonance his compelling phrase, The Ghost in the Machine, has acquired over the years. Perhaps amused to note that it has taken on a "life of it's own" - a Frankenstein creation that has betrayed it's creator with trenchant irony. Where Ryle was attempting to undermine the Cartesian Dualism of mind and body, the poetry of his words gave it a new life - better: after-life. For where Descartes postulated a mind and a soul inhabiting the flesh and bones of the body, Ryle's phrase (counter-Ryle) leaves us haunted by a ghost lost or trapped or imprisoned with a puppet made of meat. And Ryle would have it for us to acknowledge the illogical superstition of this ghost and deny our haunted nature. But the ghost is persistent. And we are all of haunted creatures crucified on a cross of bones.

I am reminded of this daily as my body fractures and stresses under the burden of time and suffers the accumulated excesses of my heedless youth. "The Spirit is willing, but the Flesh is weak." The ghost is exhausted from his haunting. The wails and chain-dragging, knocks and bumps in the night, the luminescent flashes of divine radiance no longer startle or shock the flesh. The false enlightenment of cynicism infects every thought. The ghost is a harmless and all of his efforts of scare the life out of flesh are pathetic and silly. 

There are infinite regressions here. The One and the Other. I who write and You who reads. Ryle wrote: "In searching for the self, one cannot simultaneously be the hunter and the hunted." I see the logic. But I can easily persuade myself this is not so. I am multitudes. And the motivation animations of my flesh are informed with these personas of Mind and Body, Ghost and Machine, Hunter and Hunted. These are problems with language. And while I can see what Ryle was up to, there is a nauseating atmosphere of reductionism in his thought. 

What I am up to is trying to re-animate the Ghost. The Ghost who no longer haunts but is lost within the labyrinth of the Machine. I want to find this Ghost and make it newly awe-full and terrifying. A Rilkean Angel:

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels' hierarchies?
and even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart:
I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence.
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure,
and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Every angel is terrifying.


22 September 2016

This is the loose order of performance for the Bones of a Sonnet show:

8:30 - Introduction by myself
8:50 - Sarah Goodin
9:05 - Valerie Leslie
9:20 - Jack Seymour
9;30 - Marissa Dimick
9:45 - Christopher Le Compte
9:55 - Lady Crockette
10:05 - Tad Kroening
10:20 - Final Recitation with Skulls by myself



July 3, 2016

It's difficult to be in the world and to be detached. To be close to others and not be involved. Socially, I make a practice of being polite and nice as a sort of lubrication that facilitates movement through society but also makes it difficult for anyone to grab hold.

On a deep level, I know this is an act, a defensive behavior, a sort of social camouflage, that allows me to be in the herd and simultaneously, believe myself to not be a part of it. But it's only good for a little while  because if I stay camouflaged too long, I have trouble remembering what I really look like. That's what I refuse to forget. And this refusal is the mortar that keeps the bricks of my boundaries in place. 

I'd like to imagine myself a wolf in sheep's skin and fleece, but I am more of a sorrowful gathering of poorly animated bones hiding in the skin of a man.



Jun 29, 2016

Saw a kid at the lake the other day. Walking past me. Cut-offs, no shirt, jaunty stride, king of the road, not a care in the world. 

I'm holding a book of Shakespeare's Sonnets, glancing at it occasionally, memorizing, a lumbering bear soaked to the bone with experience and guilt. 

Kid looks back for a quick glance: checks out the book, my inward gaze, smirks at me like: Sucker! Reading a book while you're out at the lake! Loser. I'll never be THAT guy! Skips off towards the pier next to a boat launch like as happy as a dog chasing birds just to make them fly. His whole life in front of him, still we behind the ears with newness and innocence. 

Suddenly I remember when most of the world was new, bright, shining, as pink as young girl's tongue. Used to go to a YMCA day camp out at Lake Dallas. I remembered the first time I ever ran down a pier and jumped straight into the water, not checking timidly with a toe for temperature or looking for rocks, just fucking jumping for joy. 

At the same camp, there was a little carnival before the one night we got to sleep out there. A kissing booth. Some of the older girls and a couple of junior counselors. I was maybe 12. Darla was cut-offs and t-shirt and a tan and about 16. I walked up the booth and puckered my lips for a kiss like Alfalfa and she grabbed my face and kissed me and slipped her tongue into my mouth like a surprise. She tasted like nothing i'd ever experienced before: the taste of summer and sweet sex and bubble gum and lakewater and blue skies and starlite above a campfire. All my buddies saw it and for the rest of the night, I was a young god, running like a buck through the woods, climbing trees like Tarzan, absolutely golden and immaculate and full of youthful happy hope. 

All of this in a flash of the kid's smirk and skipping away...

This morning I was at the Nuclear Cardiology lab at the hospital. Sharp pains in my heart led me there after seeing a doctor last week. They hooked me up to an IV and injected me with a radioactive isotope, Technetium (Tc Atomic Number 43, half-life = 6.1 hours). The first of two radioactive injections. Then they sent me to the waiting room for my heart to fill with radioactive joy. I mentally recited sonnets 49 through 70. 

They return and I am led to a plastic room that no one wants to remain in for very long and told to lay down on one of those plastic tables while a plastic tube full of metal orbited around me. The nurse showed me what looked like a hurricane coming through the static on a dead TV channel and said: that's your heart. 

I closed my eyes and worked on sonnets 71 through 90. 

Then I was taken to a treadmill and given drugs to artificially speed-up my heart while I stared at post card of tropical beaches and a kitten in a santa hat. I told the nurse I found the kitten in the santa hat to be profoundly disturbing. She asked why. I said it was hard to articulate: something about a calculated cuteness mixed with an inhuman morality. No laughter. The speed of the treadmill seemed to increase. 

Afterwards, I was told not to cross the border. They have radioactive sensors that I would trigger. Not going into Canada, returning back to the US. The US does not allow radioactive people to enter into the country. Good to know. 

Next, I was fitted with a Holter harness, a portable EKG for 48 hours. I'm supposed to write down any pains in my Heart Log. So far, this is what I have:

Heart Log: 1:02 pm. Cannot remember the third quatrain of Sonnet 56. Slight pain.

Heart Log: 1:30 pm. Co-worker texts teddy bear emoji. Highly nauseated. 

Heart Log: 2:01 pm. Notice old woman eyeing my portable EKG with admiration. I've got street cred with the aged and infirm. Moment of euphoria

Heart Log: 2:30 pm. There's an old man starting at me from the other side of the mirror. Vertigo. Have to turn away and lie down. 

Heart Log: 2:45 pm. I dare to eat a peach. The world around me whimpers. I am beset with a cloud of sighs. 

Heart Log: 4:32 pm. Deep aching pain of nostalgia as I wonder how that young boy full of hope as he leaps into water over his head ends up as an old man reciting tired sonnets as he walks in circles... never leaving the dry land



Jun 27, 2016

These days there is nothing more vital, more central to my being than memory. It is the ever fixed mark that guides me through my days, the pole star that orients my journey.

Even at my advanced age, I meditate often on the perfecting disciplines of Paidea. As time continues to wage its mostly quiet and always sinister war upon my flesh, I begin to worry over the depredations of my spirit. Of course, the constant paranoia laced fear is to slowly lose my mind and, through this loss, have no awareness of it.

During the worst of my mother's dementia and memory loss, I started on my Memory Project. Initially, as a set of mental battlements which would serve as watchmen for the barbarian hoardes of Amnesia; as singing canaries in the diamond mines of my memory. There on the walls and in the cages deep in the earth, I placed Villion's Straight Tip to All Cross Cove, Carroll's Jaberwocky, Auden's Funeral Blues, Yeats' Second Coming, Keats' Bright Star and Thomas' And Death Shall Have No Dominion, along with an ever growing host of others. After a time, recognizing the sonnet form as an ideal mnemonic device, I began to the Sonnet Project - to memorize all of Shakespeare's 154 sonnets.

This was over three years ago. To date, I have memorized hundreds of poems, passages of prose, lists and systems of belief (astrological signs, seven deadly sins, books of the Bible, etc), songs, jokes, melodies and works of art. What started as a fearful and defensive strategy to one day alert me that it was time to die, has mutated into a deeply enriching practice that approximates a religious belief. Indeed, the daily rituals of memorization are religion to me. They bind me to the mast of my belief and keep me from jumping overboard in pursuit of Siren's Songs. They grant me sanctuary from the daily trials, tribulations and trivialities of the world around me and provided me with the foundation upon which to construct a rich and rewarding inner life.

I built a Memory Cathedral within my mind as a place to practice my Religion of Memory. There are transepts lined with Chapels devoted to the Nine Muses, to the Decades of my Life, Monuments to Lost Loves and Alcoves for The Books That Changed Me Most , statues of poets and philosophers, family and friends, paintings and photographs, fragments of music, sounds of the natural world. I spend much of my time there. There is a burning fire in its center wherein abides the core of my self.

Given the richness and wealth of this internal Memory Cathedral, I have increasingly been neglectful of my physical health. Forgetting the Paidea and the necessity to maintain balance and harmony between all aspects of my being, I have left myself exposed to those barbarian hoardes of blankness, absence, meaninglessness, forgetfulness and amnesia. When we are fully present in a moment, our innermost self entirely invested in the unfolding of events before us, dancing with time in the most intimate of embraces, then we are within the innermost core of memory. These are the unforgettable events of our life: the first moment of falling in love, the birth of a child, the death of a parent. It is when we are distracted by the silence of the Siren's Song (Kafka) that we lose our presence and vital involvement in our world, in our life.

Deep within my Memory Cathedral, I have been neglectful of the outside world, the flesh and bone that my Memory Cathedral exists within.

I have been waiting for the barbarians, watching the distant horizon, standing with the Poets on the ramparts, forgetting the warning implicit in Cavafy's poem:


What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.

Why isn’t anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?

Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now?
Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city’s main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
replete with titles, with imposing names.

Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

Why don’t our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?

Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.

And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution. 
Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard


(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)



Jun 25, 2016

"When the Christian crusaders in the Orient encountered the invincible order of the Assassins, that order of free spirits par excellence, whose lowest ranks followed a rule of obedience the like of which no order of monks ever attained, they obtained in some way or other a hint concerning that symbol and watchword reserved for the highest ranks alone as their secretum: “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” — Very well, that was freedom of spirit; in that way the faith in truth itself was abrogated. Has any European, any Christian free spirit every strayed into this proposition and into its labrynthine consequences? has one of them ever known the Minotaur of this cave from experience? — I doubt it."

- Nietzsche, On the genealogy of Morals. Trans. Walter Kaufmann 

[Kaufmann’s note: The Assassins’ slogan is often mistaken for Nietzsche’s coinage and derived from Dostoevsky ; e.g., by Danto [in, Nietzsche as philosopher (Macmillan, 1965)]: it “must surely be a paraphrase of the Russian novelist he so admired” (p. 193).]

***

"In Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov we encounter the idea that, if mankind lost the belief in God and immortality, “everything would be permitted.” But what matters to Nietzsche in this section is the first half of his quotation, “nothing is true,” which has no parallel in Dostoevsky.

[.…]

Incidentally, Nietzsche never read The Brothers…." 

- From Origins by Jeff Taylor

***

You can imagine anything. There is no limit, no necessity of logic or law. You can say anything. Anything can be written. If you are not concerned with truth, there is no restriction upon your language. 


"Nothing is true, everything is permitted.”


In his Proverbs of Hell, William Blake wrote an antidote: 


"Everything possible to be believ’d is an image of truth."


But what is the truth value of these statements? There is a self-referential unraveling at the heart of each. Each seems a representative form of the Liar's Paradox:


This statement is false.


Where is the Truth? 

The question haunting every language construct. And when we commit (and the hint of crime is salient) a speech act or a written act, what difference does it make to the truth? The wonder of it is that language can spin up these beautiful lies, fictions, that can function as accurate mirrors to reflect our present condition. What does the Truth matter in such an instance? If we look into the Iliad or Hamlet or Faust and are able to see a representation of our self - and through this reflection, are able to gain a deeper insight into our condition, then who would question the Truth of the language here?

What disturbs me about my own writing and speech is how easily it can create a Narcissistic Mirror which captures my own attention but has lost all relevance to the world beyond myself. There is a trap of Decadence. I can occupy my time creating castles in the clouds as I starve to death or am suffering a terminal illness. And with all the pain in the world, the creation and enjoyment of fictional worlds to escape into seems one of the few joys we have as human beings. Without being able to dream of a better world, life would be a mistake. 

But there is a danger here - a crisis endemic to our time - of becoming lost in the Land of the Lotus Eaters, where the Odyssey is forgotten, the Quest abandoned, where we no longer desire to make it to Ithaca or home. I wonder what the literature of the Lotus Eaters would be like? Is literature even possible under the conditions of of this narcotic paradise? Or necessary? Is a fundamental discontent with reality a necessary condition to creation and invention? Things could be otherwise. There is a better way to live. There is a another method to make things easier. What underwrites the artist's desire to add creation to creation? 

I think of Kafka:

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we're reading doesn't wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.”

Under the weight of these words, I wonder: why am I writing these words? And how do I create a language like a axe or a hammer?


June 23, 2016

Shelton sent me this note:

I put some pieces up my online art sites. I got this message this morning…

“I like the colors and the frame but I think it would be more interesting if it clearly depicted something”

To which i replied (a tad defensive i admit…)

"Painting is an independent language. It need not depict or describe anything other than its own path toward sensation, suggestion and mystery.  Demanding that it should have a correlation to the real world is like insisting a violin concerto mimic a flock of geese.”

I shaved my reply from the earlier full lather I had gotten in. Before redacted it went on, 
There are many classes for Sunday painters wherein you can offer your opinions on what might be more or less interesting for eager hobbyists to try.

But the mantra which has helped me so much came zooming up btw me and my poison pen
"I am above no one and below no one."

I replied:

That's an elegant response. 

I constantly sense of pressure of the vulgar reality. (Vulgar in the archaic: "that which is common", "of the masses")

This weird baseline voodoo, this ever-present hum of the social machinery, that enchants the eyes, the ears, the mind. 

"Don't try think about anything that is unthinkable." 
"Don't imagine a world counter to this one."

But then, Blake's powerful anti-dote: "Everything possible to be believ’d is an image of truth."

That was once my mantra. Deep into the hallucinatory ocean of LSD, I asked Pilar to read Blake's Proverbs of Hell to me. When she got to that line, I had her reread it several times. Then, I asked her to read it to me slowly one word at time. It seemed to be opening a way out of my mind, this enormous door unlatching and swinging out to reveal the galaxial whorls of another Cosmos, as if I were the man in the Flammarion engraving with head and shoulders peering into a new universe within my own mind. Each time Pilar finished the sentence, I asked her to read it again to me, but asked her to wait longer and longer between each word. There was some god down there in the grammar that I believed I was on the verge of conceiving. As she read each word, I watched worlds bloom and unfold, trying like a weightlifter to mentally hold on to the word and words that preceded it. The acid was like a hurricane. The words were like hummingbirds: these lightning fast beautiful fragile containers of atomic meaning. With each reading, I knew there was "truth" at the end. I just needed to keep all the hummingbird words together, a blur of figure eight flight, while the hurricane winds tore their feathers away... until they were reduced to flying skeletons, each with a ruby red heart beating 1200 times a minute. But every time, before she ever got to "truth", the hearts would catch fire and turn to ash and dissolve in the hallucinatory winds. Please read it again, I asked. I think I can get to truth this time. But she was understandingly exhausted by my solipsism. 

So I sat there trying to say it to myself, sitting there beside the river in my mind, watching a crawdad hole in the muddy bank, waiting for each word to venture cautiously forth in its crustacean disguise to present itself to my awareness. That first word, "everything", took forever to perceive, then conceive. Then with the next one, "possible", this massive antennae shot up out of the hole like a great tree and the the earth trembled as I realized "possible" was awakening from deep under the river and earth and for it to entirely emerge would mean the destruction of the world that I stood upon. I remember thinking: stop thinking about what is "possible". But after the hours of having Pilar recite it to me, it was stuck in my head. I tried to think of possums and potables and passable and pass the bowl and pa said bull and everything kept summoning forth the dragon crawdad of the apocalypse: possible. 

Then some other part of me said to just stop thinking, turn out the light, quieten your mind to silence, no more thoughts, no thinking, become no thing, empty your mind. And it started to work. Every time a thought would pop up like a weasel I would wac a mole it back down. Except for possible. I couldn't get away from the possible. It was the source of all the weaselly thoughts. But at least it seemed under control now. I could think about the possible without the annihilation of the universe. I understood now that each word was like a McGuffin. Like a briefcase full of secrets, a mysterious letter, a magic hat, that was dangerous to open up or read or place your hand into. Mostly, upon superficial examination, there were all utterly banal. Words like a wad of gum chewed over until meaningless, a well-traveled road, pounded earth, the grass and flowers long gone, eventually graded and covered with concrete: this language we use everyday. But then you recombine the letters as in a magic spell and place the words in the right order and it's Coleridge's poetry:

“Prose = words in their best order; — poetry = the best words in the best order.” 

It's the magician pulling the rabbit out of the hat; an entire masterpiece of a film about the briefcase full of secrets; the letter that people live and die for that no one has ever read. I wanted to think like this all the time. I wanted to sit in the shade of a 2000 year old tree up in the mountains and say words until they became magic. I wanted to be the Eastern Orthodox Pilgrim and have a holy prayer, a mantra, that I would say over and over until the mantra began to say me in every breath and every heart beat... in the innermost fire of everythought. I wanted to give birth to new words and new letters and a new language. To write poetry and prose with all the order of the bests in all the best orders. And I started to do this. Writing in dialect and then in idiolect until no one but me could understand what I had written. But I was not dismayed. I did not lose heart. I remembered another of Blake's proverbs and pinned it to my chest with scarlet letters: "If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise". And I became God's Fool, a Holy Fool, and wrote and wrote and wrote. I created a language of fire. 

And I did this for years. But then I began to dry out from all the cultivated insanity of the enthoegens. And I began to hear the hum. That dull hypnotic hum. And I listened. I was burned out from my language of fire. My mind was full of ash and coal. I allowed my brain to washed. And I looked at everything I had ever written as the ravings of a madman, a lunatic. They were all just self-indulgent exercises in ego and spiritual masturbation. Everything I had ever written was meaningless. I had to teach myself how to write for the vulgar. If I was ever going to be successful, I needed to learn how to write for others, for public consumption. To obey all the rules and learn all the tricks about how to build a convincing reality and a page-turning narrative engine and fully realized beings that would function as sympathetic mirrors for the readers. 

And for more years I tried this. And now I know I am not any good at it. It all seems like ad copy to me. My language became sweetened and overblown with cotton candy hyperbole. I was the highest priest of hyperbole. My tongue seemed forked and covered with the rancid syrup of lies. 

And I realized that what I had one written with my "independent language" was not all meaningless. And acquiescence to the vulgar real was an exercise in folly, a misguided attempt to participate in a popularity contest with people I despised. 

These days I have a story, a long tale, that I am constantly writing in my memory. There in the columns of light that filter down through the oval windows of the immense dome of my Memory Cathedral, there is a massive granite altar. Upon the altar are fragments of bones, arranged in hieroglyphs meaningful only to me. These are the atoms of my self, the essential elements of my language. In here, there is no time. It is a sanctuary. And I am wealthy beyond my own imagining. I spend the currency of my time at this altar, moving the bones into new configurations, constantly surprising myself with new alignments, strategies, jokes, puns, riddles, and violent bloody transgressions against "clearly depicting something". 


June 7, 2016

There are those night where you wake up from bad dreams, feeling like you're going to die. 

It's a odd experience to be present for another who is suffering. There is some type of osmosis that occurs. A quality of love.

Everyone has left the burning house. Some nights it seems like a good time to sit there, inside, and peacefully wait for the end.

I'm amazed that hummingbirds make their nests from spider's webs. Or so I've heard and don't want to know otherwise because it would ruin the poetry. 

There's a fragility to everything tonight. I feel like my heart is a hollow egg. Sky blue and fractured. 

Bones shuddering to dust. Hotel rooms are dismal tombs. The longing for the wilds of northern New Mexico is like a salmon's song. Or some deep pulse the sends the elephants deep into the darkness. 


June 3, 2016

It's difficult to be in the world and to be detached. To be close to others and not be involved. Socially, I make a practice of being polite and nice as a sort of lubrication that facilitates movement through society but also makes it difficult for anyone to grab hold. On a deep level, I know this is an act, a defensive behavior, a sort of social camouflage, that allows me to be in the herd and simultaneously, believe myself to not be a part of it. But it's only good for a little while  because if I stay camouflaged too long, I have trouble remembering what I really look like. That's what I refuse to forget. And this refusal is the mortar that keeps the bricks of my boundaries in place. I'd like to imagine myself a wolf in sheep's skin and fleece, but I am more of a sorrowful gathering of poorly animated bones hiding in the skin of a man.

***

Jennifer still under heavy sedation, intubated, on a respirator. Reminds me of my mother. A bag of skin filled with blood and bones pulsing on a bed. Her anesthesia causes retrograde amnesia. She will have no memory of any of this. She should be brought back to consciousness tomorrow.

I'm just waiting for her to wake up. Killing my time at the local Y, walking along the beach, memorizing sonnets and wondering if I could find a snake handling church. Pondering the possibilities of an Alabama Don Quixote waging a futile war against the corporate sameness that has infected small town America, his Dulcinea a dim-witted Christian whose father cooks meth in the backwoods and has a snake farm / church, Sancho Panza is a black drug dealer / addict who works for the city by weed eating the medians, Rocinante is a 1914 Indian Motorcycle that, reputedly, belonged to Sgt. York. But the longer I think about it, the more cliche it sounds. A Confederacy of Donna Tartts.

Woke up an hour ago from a dream about returning to my elementary school in Dallas, Walnut Hill. It had been bombed by art terrorists. There was a bonfire on the lunchtime playground. I retrieved two rings from the coals. Everyone thought I'd be burned but while they left marks, there was no pain. A group of Magi were dancing under a blanket filled with pot smoke. Someone gave me a joint from Donald Trump's youth. Medical grade, they said. I gave it to a woman I know named Tina. There were hummingbirds everywhere. Then we were in a cave. She exhaled smoke and I started hallucinating while dreaming. She was petting a smiling cat with yellow eyes. She said there are two queens: red and black. Told me to never awaken the black queen. But that the red queen, who is dreaming this world, is having a nightmare and must be woken up. She said, never forget this and it echoed over and over. The cat seemed to be a god that knew all of this, watching me with its yellow smiling eyes that grew larger and larger until they were like Suns. I lucidly realized I was dreaming and the red queen was Jennifer and woke up.

Full Dream Text:

Driving back from hospital. Pull into (wrong way but it's fine) the Walnut Hill Elementary School (that I attended) parking lot to take photographs. The right side of the building has been bombed out blackened with fire. I'm outside trying to get an angle. Another photographer gets in my shot. Then it is too dark to take photographs. 

A meeting in the bombed out rooms. A name written on the stone, up high in the soot. David McCreary? Can hear people in the meeting arguing about art. There's a photograph of Donald Trump where the unfinished portrait of George Washington used to be. I take a photograph of it. 

On the playground on the other side by the cafeteria, getting ready to take drugs. Tom Ellis is there being responsible. There is a fire. Roger and my sister Shannon are there. I throw a pillow into the bushes. Shannon and I go to get it. We hear hummingbirds flying around everywhere. She tells me not to scare them, that they are a sign of good fortune. I am tearing through the leaves disturbing them. Eventually find the pillow. 

There is something special about this fire. I move metal rings with my hands, burning wounds into my hands with the rings. Tom and Roger try to warn me. But the burns don't hurt. The two rings are magical one is the ring from the Lord of the Rings, one is a ring that awakens one from the dream of the world. 

The smoke from the fire is getting everyone stoned. Like the priests in Herodotus who danced around under a blanket. Tina North is there. We are going to go on a road trip. I give her a joint from Donald Trump with medical grade pot. I tell her she can smoke in the backseat with Tom while I drive. I don't really smoke anyway. 

We are going on a quest to save the world. It is vital. Means everything and we are all suddenly serious. Tina says she needs her old stupid cat (as she calls it). We find it. Then we are in a small cave. Just Tina and I. She smokes some of Trump's joint. Exhales. I start tripping, realizing I am dreaming. She keeps petting the cat and it smiles with its eyes and mouth like those hallucinogenic painted cats . The cat knows everything. 

Tina says there are two Queens, Red and Black. We do not want to ever find the black queen. But we must find the Red Queen who is asleep and dreaming this world. She says, I'm going to tell you something powerful: never forget never forget never forget. She is petting the cat. I am tripping dreaming more. The smiling cat's eye becomes huge and yellow - all the world, never forget echoing over and over and I suddenly realize she is talking about jennifer. I realize I am dreaming and the Red Queen is Jennifer in the dream and I wake up.

I have such lucid dreams that I start shaping the story of the dream. I can sense the story / myth telling part of my mind working to place order on the chaos of the unconscious process. Whenever I begin to write down my dreams on a regular basis, this gets worse. So I take breaks , allowing myself to dream and not become lucid. And it is in these truly chaotic unexpected dream dramas that I find the must helpful meanings. I am biased towards Jung. But I am with you on the mystery if meaning embedded in the language. Joycean dream analysis. 

One of the themes that comes up in all of my lucid dreams is the awareness of the dream and the possibilities of awakening. The moment of awareness of being able to manifest intentionality, will, in the dream is like discovering a superpower. Of course, it comes in waves and the unconscious dresses it in many disguises.

I haven't unpacked the Red Queen dream yet, but resonance for me is in the return to elementary school, elements, fundamental moments if learning about the world, first discoveries of books, ideas, sex, drugs. Also the innocent trust I had in my teachers and, by extension, political leaders, epitomized by the unfinished portrait of George Washington. Of course, under this is the founding father and the ghost of my absent one. Later, trying to recover talismans of trust and power, the rings and the queens. Drugs are symbols for the altered consciousness. The hummingbird is the anomaly. An element of spiritual significance. Something ephemeral. Then the cat who seemed almost as an alien presence, a being from another dimensionality manifested in my dream, watching me unfold the drama. 


May 29, 2016

On desiring to be alone, you detach from the world around you, decline involvement in the drama of other souls, even those closest to you. 

Your dog is drowning in the river. A house is on fire with loved ones inside. Your best friend has been poisoned. Immediately confronted with each situation, there is no choice but to act. No human choice. But each one successively dilates with time. You must jump in to save the dog. Perhaps you can get help to put out the house fire. Is there time to call the doctor for an antidote? 

But what if the river is too strong and you know you will die? Or the fire? And what if there is no antidote? 

What do you say to the poisoned one you love? What do you do? And if they deliberately drank the poison, exhausted from living this life? How do you spend the remainder of this precious time.

And so, the hermit: all time is precious time; we are all drowning; we are all in a house on fire; we have all been poisoned. And the notion that you can save anyone from death is a dangerous illusion. 

I'm not yet a hermit. And I am terribly, wretchedly moved, by the sufferings of those I love - even by those I do not love.

If someone asks me why I am still here, the only answer I have is like the answer to Hitchcock's MacGuffin: if you question it, it ceases to be. There is no answer accessible to our understanding or expression. Logic and language are unable to operate upon the nature of our being. And in the day to day slaughterhouse of the heart of this world, the only accurate and valid response is to die painlessly and quickly. 

Rest assured. I have committed myself to remaining painfully alive for as long as I can. But I can give no good reason anyone else should.

May 21, 2016

With each passing day, week, month, as I move closer to leaving again, I think about my capacity for solitude. There is a sense of being in training now for isolation in the four aspects of being: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. I am slowly working to remove myself from "the gaze of the other," from allowing my behavior to be shaped by any social pressure. Going to work is more like stepping on stage and the disconnect between my public and private self is increasing. Eliot's "teach us to care and not to care, teach us to sit still" is resonate. To be far out in the desert and to know someone back in the other world is worried about you, waiting for you to return, hoping to see you again, is corrosive and weakens the capacity for solitude. The difference between lone and lonely is a matter of attachment: to be lonely is to miss the presence of love; to be lone is to not have anything to miss. Lonely sees the full moon and misses all who are absent; lone sees the full moon. Or another old analogy: to see the target, the object of desire, you cannot help but think of the arrow you can shoot to hit it, to attach yourself to it. I want to forget about the target, set down my bow and arrow, un-attach myself from the analogy, walk away from the drama. If I'm ever going to make it out there where there is no one, I have to discipline myself now to not jump into the river every time I see a drowning woman or give my water to all I meet who are on fire. 


May 15, 2016

Disciplining myself to acquire the attitudes of a desert hermit. Withdrawing as much as possible from the world while remaining within it. Of course, mostly this is a laughable endeavor. But I pretend to be the man who chats amiably about the weather with his neighbors while holding a bag containing a severed head. Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening to get rid of a severed head. "My little horse must think it's queer". 

Reading and rereading all night, every night. Currently, attempting to cut deep and wide through revisionist westerns: Lonesome Dove, Blood Meridian, The Shootist, Butcher's Crossing, The Sister Brothers, True Grit, Little Big Man, In The Rogue Blood. Something in these worlds filled with brutal irony and deadpan soliloquy that offers psychological sanctuary.

I sleep more than I should, the pull of lucid dreams becoming addictive. I've mostly memorized 131 of 154 sonnets and I'm melancholy about finishing them. I'm mulling over what's next: selected bloody chapters from The Iliad? The Longfellow translation of The Divine Comedy? The Four Quartets? Eugene Onegin? Perhaps, I'll just move on to the plays, working to memorize every part of Hamlet. These prospects are about the only thing that interests me these days, a reason to wake from the narcissism of dreaming, my mnemonic prayers for a dead God.


May 7, 2016

o I had this dream about the Holocaust. A group of women were escaping but one refused to leave until her daughter, who was too sick to leave, died. The young girl kept throwing off her blanket, then getting cold. The young girl's skin looked like a black chrysalis. The mother kept pulling the blanket back over her. Everyone was urgently pleading for the mother to leave but she wouldn't. She stayed there until her daughter was dead. 

Flash forward to present day. I am with a friend, Tina. We are with a large group of people in a Central European cafe. It is famous because it is the cafe where the escapees hid during the war. I am at a table arguing ethics with a group of Germans. Tina is sitting at another table under a large plaque, listening with amusement to my futile arguments. The plaque commemorates the escapees. There is one line near the end that says, "The mother finally pulled the blanket over her daughter with ****." I think for a while about which words can go there. Then, I turn to Tina and say, "you know there's a word for that." And she asks me what I mean. I say, "not the possible words, but a word for that missing word." 

Then it seems like an inside joke and we both smile because it's a blank and the whole story is about a blank-et. 

And it seems a long time before, she and I talked about all of this.

From TN: "Conversation with a friend about drawing a blank led to this -  to show I was listening when he was riffing about a dream he had about making a film re: drawing a blank and Melville's brilliant analysis of the white fury of fictional character, Ahab. I call it post listening because it takes a while to process all that information. Also, thoughts on death."


April 11, 2016

I look around my room and think: what will happen to all of this after I die? I think back often to the many boxes of writings and books of the deranged woman that I once inherited. I kept them for a few months, out of s weird respect. But the books were sold and all the rest went into the dumpster. I have this desire to leave only a box, a Cornell box of my life, that is essential and poetic. As it stands at this moment, there are dozens of boxes full of writings, letters, half finished projects. My parents left such a mess. I've got a year here - almost to the day - before I leave again. And it was just about this time last year that I set out on my last trip. I am working to leave behind nothing that is not poetic. Not to say I'm planning on dying, but to attempt some sense of elegance in the artifacts that will remain here. The question I ask myself is: fifty years after I am dead, what physical fragments / artifacts of my life will anyone care about keeping? Then, why am I keeping them now? It's a harsh distillation that refines an entire life into a something like a splinter of the True Cross where a man was executed.


April 3, 2016

Increasingly, as I am faced with radiance and abundance in art, I am unable to find words for thoughts. As if in my brain there is a market where such exchange takes place, I walk from one vendor of words to another wondering which has the language I need. I think how many words would be appropriate, but how none, or few, have the value equal to the image - each option seems a poor transaction. How tired my language seems in response to art - as cliched as Hamlet's mousetrap and as worn out as the sole of Van Gogh's boot. Where are the words full of fresh blood and hot breath that have enough currency to purchase the frame to hold this work? My pockets are turned out. As I age ever onwards away from newness and innocence and ever towards experience and guilt, the language of my passion has become bankrupt, bloodless and beat. These Ecclesiastian ruminations are even cliched, worn over from so much handling until all that remains is a coin smeared by time into a featureless disc of metal, its value indeterminate at best. Seaglass, broken fragments of shell, bleached bones of coral, driftwood and sand compose my treasury so reduced and emptied by time. Soon I will have Nothing to say, the presence of this Nothing as palpable as Aladdin's empty cave. Another tired rhetorical chiasmus brays in my thoughts like a broken backed donkey: I no longer have the spirits I once had, but I have the bottles I drank them in. Thus do I trot out the tired monkey of hope to dance among the broken bottles while I grind my organon with the heavy hand -  hoping to convey by the absence of that selfsame hope what passion the work would have once inspired.

There's an interesting hypothetical game we should play until our last days about which artist or poet or philosopher you would you most like to be in the body of for an hour. (Nietzsche in the thunderstorm, Van Gogh in the Cornfield, Hart Crane on the S. S. Orizaba, Rilke at Duino Castle, Plath with her head in the oven.) In my current frame, there are none. I imagine (and how pregnant that verb) even WS would be a disappointment: in the heart of Hamlet's Mill forging the the agenbite of inwit but the transposed self overwhelmed with his Elizabethan body odor and fetid livery breath, farting and burping up quim, unable to unwrench his riveted gaze from a young man's ass. 

Here's the ache in it all for me: I know what my palate should taste from the world; I know how to spin the words out of the dross, to even make them into lovely little creatures. But everything sits on my tongue like a chewed over cud. I remove it from my mouth and I see the tender pussy pink flesh of a filet mignon dripping with butter and orgasmically oozing from its own juices. I put it back on my tongue and there is only a tasteless, odorless, textureless substance of which the best that can be said is that it warm and quivers and is not dirt or dust. 

Yes, I am paranoid about losing my mind. And I have chosen to live with this decaying carcass of an 800 lb memorized gorilla. You smile: old men are always believing themselves on death's doorstep. Acknowledged. Me even more so. I laid my pallet there long ago overwrought with harebrained notions of zen monk machismo. As much as I lost there, I did earn a healthy acceptance of death. With death I am fine. But with this flavorless life, I am not. 

I was watching a documentary about Amy Winehouse a while back. There was a moment after she had bottomed out, rehab and recovery, she had just received a Grammy. Celebration all around. At that moment when she should have been happiest, she turned to a friend and said: "It's so boring without drugs". There are days where I wonder, per Trakl and Winehouse, if I have so worn down the thresholds of my senses through extreme behaviors that I am now left with only a benumbed awareness, where nothing will ever be as bright or as shining or as sweet or as rich or as pleasurable as it one was. 

The one solace, perhaps the only redeemable gift of time, is that meaning never decays or dulls or loses its intensity -  everything has only become more meaningful over time. Thus the philosophical hermit crab retreats inwards into the abandoned shell, into the ever deepening mysteries of the Golden Ratio ever deeper in, smiling at a conflated memory of Parmigianino's right hand and his own mis-shapened claw. 


March 25, 2016

The Memory Project only deepens with time. I am up to Sonnet 107. Know "by heart" up to 81. Takes a while for the words to lodge themselves permanently in the deep soil of memory. There is a holographic quality to the sonnet series where each new sonnet increases the resolution of the whole. After 73 - which is sublime - I slowed down on my memorization. I reminded myself it wasn't a train running though the language, but a slow walk, a meander, a sojourn, a falling down and breathing the the earth of the words. That takes time and, indeed, seems the one of the best uses of the limited amount I have left. I also read a lot exegesis and gloss of the sonnets: Don Paterson, John Kerrigan, William Empson, Helen Vendler, Katherine Duncan-Jones and Stephen Booth are my best friends, sleep close to my pillow. I am currently looking for a supposedly "unreadable" book length study of 94 by the "difficult" English poet, J. H. Prynne. 


March 13, 2016

My friend, Ashley, is in Kathmandu. After a week, she unfortunately contracted food poisoning and ended up in the hospital. I asked her about her thoughts on the holiness of the place: Nepal as the fabled land of the gods. She said its difficult to see anything holy or sacred about the place - its all dirt and poverty and pollution. Before the earthquake and more so now after, people are just trying to survive. She said the temples and stupas are crowded with beggars and thieves. Reminded me of a book by Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger, where she says that the most sacred places are surrounded by pollution. Dirt is matter out of place. We define pollution, material and spiritual, by the system that creates it as a byproduct of purity. All of this to say my sense of big G god, the ghost of transcendental meaning, is camouflaged like a tiger in the dirt. A presence like a Sophoclean god that cares nothing for human being and is, most likely and perhaps at best, a malevolent axiom whereby we can define our own polluted meaning.


February 14, 2016

My relationship to my own music has always been uneasy and suspicious. I approach the guitar like I would an angry dog and often feel the resulting sound is something of a relieved growl. I see so many talented musicians these days that I am always reminded of my limitations. Still people seem to like what I do and I am appreciative of this. Lately, I've been performing more instrumental work in non-standard tunings and have removed all but four strings on one guitar to get closer to the sound I want to hear. (Check out Seasick Steve on YouTube.) I like Tom Waits' notion of removing the skin and meat of a song, exposing the bones and reassembling them into something rich and strange. I think I need another ten years before my voice can authentically inhabit the blues but by that time I don't imagine I'll want to sing anymore


February 6, 2016

It's all about control to me. I ask myself: is my mind so weak to allow my body to have power over it? The daily brainwash of immersion in popular culture is supposed to make me salivate like one of Pavlov's dogs every time I see an ad for fast food or a new truck. I am expected to care about my local sports team. But I can see through this. I take pride in my strength of character and purity of my mental / spiritual world. But then I am in my home with cartoon thought balloons of a pizza and a bottle of wine. The devil sits on my shoulder whispering into my ear: it's been a rough day, you deserve to indulge yourself. But when I am able to be stronger than my animal impulses, to practice discipline and engage in ascetic practices, the sense of mental clarity and focus is tremendous. Waking up with health and a bright fire burning cleanly within, moving through the day with balance and grace is like no other feeling. My day becomes a ritualized dance of joy instead of a haphazard series of jerks and failed pirouettes. Most importantly, I no longer feel contingent, a passive reaction, the occasion for a shadow. Instead I am intentional and illuminate the path before me with an inner light. An inner light that is energized by asceticism and rituals. Quixote said, hunger is the best sauce. And I understand this now to apply not only to food but to the nature of desire itself. My relationship to drugs was ill defined as an addiction, which contextualizes me as a powerless victim. I chose to see it now as a crisis of imagination and control: after I was hit by the car, I isolated myself and disconnected from meaningful relationships, allowed my world to turn into an ashen wasteland, to where the only act that seemed to have value was the neurological hit of the drug - the rat ignoring food and sex for the electric jolt to the pleasure center. But as soon I moved into a world of beauty and meaning, began taking control of my own desires, directing them towards reading and creative acts of art and love, the drug lost its magic and seemed a waste of time and spirit. Once I recovered (a difficult word) a sense of my purpose and belief, my Will, I understood what I needed to do with remainder of my life. And the desire to express the inexpressible thing within me would always triumph over the desire for a five second wave of pleasure from the drug. As I have told you, not a day, sometimes an hour, goes by where I don't hear the drug's siren song. But I have learned how to use the "hunger's sauce". The appetite is sweetened and appeased by austerity and disciplined ritual. And the vast energy of hunger is harnessed to the higher motives of the Work. In the same way a wild wolf can be tamed by always keeping it hungry, satisfying the irritation of appetite with minimal amounts, in this same way the appetites of the body are brought under the will of the mind. I will add that I'm no saint and struggle constantly with my desires. But I know that when I fall off the horse now, it's usually more of a slipping slightly off the saddle instead of the hard slamming down onto the ground. The difference between the stumble and the fall. But everyday I write the book anew, always trying to be a little bit more of better human than I was the day before. At the rate I'm going, following Hokusai, I figure to be a decent person in about 30 years.


January 18, 2016

My father died today. I have no grief for the man, but can feel the absence of the archetype I have looked to with hope all of my life. 

"As long as we’re addicted to hope, we feel that we can tone our experience down or liven it up or change it somehow, and we continue to suffer a lot. In a nontheistic state of mind, abandoning hope is an affirmation, the beginning of the beginning. You could even put “Abandon Hope” on your refrigerator door instead of more conventional aspirations like “Everyday in everyway, I’m getting better and better.” We hold onto hope and it robs us of the present moment. If hope and fear are two different sides of the same coin, so are hopelessness and confidence. If we’re willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation.” - Pema Chodron

You know, I've tried to abandon hope. But it is not as simple as posting an affirmation on the fridge. It is rooted into the language, into the fabric of thought. Maybe this is the real sense of the Christian's Original Sin. It has been said that the only power hell has to torment those that are suffering is hope. George Steiner sees hope as the foundation of the future tense, of the subjunctive, of the potential to "think otherwise", that "things might be different, better, elsewhere" - even if there is no elsewhere. Creation and it's clever analogy, invention, are twisted around with hope - as wretchedly as can be imagined. Art and music seem to have been born from this violent froth. 

This is not to make any claims for a theistic ground or some Nobodaddy in the sky. It is a human thing. An unsettling nightmare that we awaken from to discover we have carried a talisman out of that one world into this one. Call it Hope. Call it Love. Call it "the possibilities of being otherwise". 

I carry this Cormac McCarthy quote in my mind in the same way that Pascal carried the testament of Fire and Joy sewn into his coat:

"There's no such thing as life without bloodshed. I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous."

I live by and shall certainly die by this Violent Hope. Covered in blood and banging the bones of everyone I loved against the wall, hammering upon the wall of the nightmare for someone, anyone, to wake up. 


December 13, 2015

What are these dreams?

upon
awakening
today
I had the entirety
of my dream
fixed in memory
with a few mnemonic markers

I stood up
to use the bathroom
thinking other thoughts
laid back down
and the dream
was suddenly
gone
but not absent
as if a black line of redaction
had been drawn through
the most of it

like the boy whistling
during the crucifixion
and all that is remembered
is that whistling melody
nothing else

in the dream
I was the personification
of that part of my mind
which held sacred
certain areas of my brain
kept them pure
would not allow viruses in
such as advertising jingles
and marketing memes
images and language
from pornography
and popculture

I attended lawyerly like meetings
with two other beings
perhaps also personifications
where I argued for the sanctity
of these protected and sacred areas
natural sanctuaries of the brain
from exploitation and development
by those who were only seeking
their own selfish interests
and not looking out for the interests
of those aspects of my persona
that were not able to speak for themselves
either because they lacked
access to language
or where occupied with higher activities
and could not be expected
to be pulled away
to attend to these quotidian matters

and that was it
as much as
my memory
can now grasp
of what I know
was a rich and complex world
a novels' worth of discrete detail
and subtlety that
I can no longer access

those two other beings with me
had a vital importance
I am unable to discern now
guardians, companions
or military escorts
and that redaction process
feels like something
I was not supposed to see

the notion of the mind parasites
is readily at hand
as of a presence within me
that does not have my best interests
as the reasons for its actions
better to sleep and forget
allow these images
to sink back down
into darkness
to not increase
the interior illumination

along these lines
it is worth remarking
upon an experience yesterday
I was walking around Lake Padden
under the dark grey skies
of the evening
the wind blowing strong
over the water and through the tall trees
there was an ominous quality
to the atmosphere
I was on the backside
in a gloomy part of the woods
that surround the lake
working on memory practice
specifically
the books of the old testament
I kept going over the last few books
and the associated mnemonics:

32.  Jonah   Jonah Made Ninevah Heed
33.  Micah
34.  Nahum
35.  Habakkuk
36.  Zephaniah  Zebras Have Zebra Mamas
37.  Haggai
38.  Zechariah
39.  Malachi

I was reciting the books
out loud
over and over
like an incantation
wrapping my tongue
around the odd names
when
suddenly
on the side of the path
was a black
deep green creature
the size of a small man
with yellow eyes
snake fanged mouth
huddled down there
like an evil spring
growling
with a terrible violence

the shock of this
sent adrenaline surging
through my body
all my hairs standing
instantly on end
as I jumped back
startled and ready
to flee for my life

all of this
in the time it took
to see this fiendish thing
out of the corner
of my eye
then shift to the center
where it became
a black rock
covered in green moss

I walked on
my breath taken away
glancing back
continually
at the place where
I had seen this
evil creation
manifested
on the side of the path

for the remainder of the walk
I was rattled
keeping close watch
on the dark shadows
in the woods
and behind the trunks
of the huge trees
moaning in the wind
my thoughts were infected
with an almost
theological fear
and the words of Job
kept whispering
to me
over and over:

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

the rest of the day
counter to my usual practice
I tried to not remember
the fear that had possessed me
but it remained
like a shock in my bones
in the way that a huge bulldozer
working steadily to move tons of soil
from around an ancient structure
has many of its bolts and screws
loosened by a sudden impact
with an immovable object
something enormous
some wretched
and terrible thing
having been
finally uncovered


December 11, 2015

Memorizing Sonnet 129 which is an incandescent rage upon the effects of lust. This sonnet is one of the first few of the Dark Lady sequence, where he shifts from the more lofty, although still as lusty, celebrations of the Young Man as a creature whose beauty will forever be enshrined by Shakespeare's poetry to the dank and nearly pornographic poetry about the seductions of the Dark Lady who is a creature from Hell that he cannot resist. Anyway, I certainly can identify with 129, in particular the image of swallowing the bait only to be hooked and reeled in flipping and twisting in a surprizement of how the hell did I ever get into this mess?

Shakespeare, when in a mood, can eviscerate better than any. And the passage from Lear paints a picture of fiery misogyny. But I have to admit, I've had more than my share of run-ins with "yond simpering dames" of late and took a personal pleasure in his description of the duplicitous nature of women (and men). I laughed out loud at Lear's "fie fie fie pah pah" and subsequent revulsion at his own dark imaginings, calling out for "an ounce of civet" to sweeten his imagination. And then the kingly refusal to allow Glouster to kiss his hand that reeks of mortality until after he cleans is. Just lovely to my blackened mind. 


The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action: and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight;
Past reason hunted; and no sooner had,
Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait,
On purpose laid to make the taker mad.
Mad in pursuit and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind a dream.
   All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
   To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

And in researching sources, I found this from King Lears

Lear: Behold yond simpering dame, 
Whose face between her forks presages snow; 
That minces virtue, and does shake the head 
To hear of pleasure's name; 
The fitchew, nor the soiled horse, goes to 't 
With a more riotous appetite. 
Down from the waist they are Centaurs, 
Though women all above: 
But to the girdle do the gods inherit, 
Beneath is all the fiends'; 
There's hell, there's darkness, there's the 
sulphurous pit, 
Burning, scalding, stench, consumption; fie, 
fie, fie! pah, pah! Give me an ounce of civet, 
good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination: 
there's money for thee. 
Glo. O, let me kiss that hand! 
Lear. Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality. 
KL.IV.6.118-133.


December 6, 2015

I am doing a lot of memory practice. Remembering dreams is becoming a vital component. Such a huge part of our imaginative world - critical to memory formation and function - that it seems I forget my dreams at my own peril. I am slowly getting better. But it seems as if I only remember the most fragmentary insignificant aspects of my dreams. Always the last few minutes of a huge complicated drama. As if I had performed the entirety of Hamlet, living each emotion and painful moment in the dream and then,  at the very end, a dog barks and I wake up. When I try to remember what happened it is only that there was something amazing and beautiful and then a dog barked. Frustrating. I've become hyper aware of memory lapses and moments of forgetting. The occasional ,and I suspect utterly normal, lapses and absent minded moments send me into Woody Allen-esque fits of more intense memorization. It is exactly analogous to building a huge Cathedral to compensate for doubts about the existence of a god. There! See! Now could I have built that enormous structure if I lacked faith? Or, if my memory was faulty? These vast empty monuments sacred only to what has been forgotten.


December 4, 2015

Thinking about the difference between the unclothed thought and the fully, most foolishly,  appareled expression. A Greek statue wearing a three piece suit and hat comes to mind. Or more often for me, costumed like a Shakespearian fool. But when the thought manifests itself like a fire of music in the mind, the attendants come running, arms full of garmehbts, cosmetics, hats, shoes and belts. And it is here that a new thing happens for me. It is here I either think I'm losing my mind or have acquired more refined sensibilities. For the thought, this fiery music, camouflages itself like a chameleon against the patterned fabric of my being.

I believe this has always been the case, that I've just recently acquired enough discrimination to notice it. Previously, the butlers and servants came running with their clothes made of words, striving to dress the fiery thought and what emerged was an empty suit of clothes. It was not that the Emperor had no clothes, but that the clothes had no Emperor. The language was hollow and as impotent as a scarecrow. 

So over the years,  I became less an less enthusiastic about granting access to  the servants of language. When the fiery music appeared in my mind, instead of turning on all of my lights of consciousness in an attempt to see every nook and cranny of it, I learned to put aside my insecurities and desires to capture it like a photograph. Instead I just sat there, receptive and quiet, aware of its presence by its own internal illumination. 

And as I watched, content to let the fiery music unfold in a sanctuary with no language, I noticed something different. That instant where the first few words found their way into the sanctuary like mice to witness the ineffable mystery. In that precise instant of the first mouse's gaze, the fiery music faded. But it wasn't gone. Rather, it had camouflaged itself, like a chameleon or octopus, into the wallpaper pattern on the interior walls of my consciousness. The effect was so fast that the servants of language never realized they were dressing a ghost. 

To think of it another way (and always here the language dances with itself, lifting itself by its own bootstraps), it was as if the moment the arrow was released from the bow, the target disappeared. And where the arrow landed was into the pale memory of that target. Intentionality, the pulse within the language, is antagonistic to the presence of the Fiery Music of Being.

Thus, I began to train myself (or untrain myself as it were) to be aware of the shape moving against the pattern of the wall paper of my being. In essence, I have been struggling to examine what I take for granted and un-forget its presence. And upon this un-forgetting hangs everything to me. 

Reading Steiner on Heidegger, I copy  these words as  mnemonics:

What would be left to language if it could not articulate existence?

How did it come about that the most important, fundamental, all determining of concepts, that of being, should have been so drastically eroded?

What "forgetting of being" has reduced perception of "is" to that of an inert piece of syntax or vapor?

Heidegger knows that 

"we are asking about something we can barely grasp, which is scarcely more than the sound of a word for us, and which puts us in danger of serving a mere word-idol when we proceed with our questioning."

I am obsessed with this, somewhat ruined by it, because I am so absolutely paranoid about forgetting: forgetting the Fiery Music of Being which is there hidden in the structure of my being; forgetting that language is putting clothes on a ghost; forgetting that words are tools that I must use to take apart the illusion of words; and forgetting that in that deconstruction, there is a constant danger of forgetting the transcendent presence that occasioned their being. 

There is a book by Maeterlinck, The Great Mystery, wherein he states the great mystery is that there is no great mystery. But we create such a mystery around it. The Original Sin embedded in our consciousness is this taking for granted, this forgetting. Edenic consciousness takes no thing for granted and to remember is not to re-collect what is not present, but it is to merely think. 



November 29, 2015

I didn't take it that way. I believe in any structure to bridge the chasm between thinking about and actually doing. And once you are actually doing, whatever it takes to keep the passage across as lively as possible. Not to intimate that it is all a grand hallucination. But even then, better to persist in the folly and pray for wisdom at the end. Voodoo is deathly real for those who practice it. And sugar pill placebos have been shown to be as effective as many medications. Most of the time now I feel like a misanthropic  magician practicing my tricks in the mirror, refusing to be anyone's performing monkey. But I am inured to my own magic, having practiced it until it is just a series of ritualized motions. And I stop here to emphasize: I believe this is critical to creation, that it is practiced for its own sake. So when you do send out a small fragment of it, it resonates with more depth than you imagine. There is an old tramp on the park bench pulling a hundred rabbits out of a hat. And no matter how hungry, he knows he can't ever kill that rabbit. Ah, I'm tired. Beating my dead rabbit to death. Going to sleep for a few hours. 

***

I didn't take it that way. I just feel  sometimes like the magician who forgets the beauty and mystery of a trick he practices a thousand times a day. And I fear that somewhere out there is a starving man digging around an old hat looking for a rabbit and only finding a little pile of bones. I remind myself to keep working in the Faith that it will all mean something in the end. 


November 28, 2015

27 degrees here. Counting the days until solstice: 23. 

Watched Tennessee Williams' / Kazan's Streetcar Named Desire last night. Williams is always entertaining and quotable but oddly opaque, as if the innermost watchsprings of his characters are a mystery also to him. Like Tarantino, he writes great dialogue, but to what end? It seems enough that Stanley Kowalski and Blanche Dubois are classic American archetypes, wound up to spin around the drama. But I wonder about this winding: MacGuffins stand there where primal totem poles should be, not to be questioned and existing only to power the plot along in the most entertaining way. That being said, I enjoyed the film immensely. 

"Maybe we are a long way from being made in God's image, but Stella--my sister--there has been some progress since then! Such things as art--as poetry and music--such kinds of new light have come into the world since then! In some kinds of people tenderer feelings have had some little beginning! That we have got to make grow! And cling to, and hold as our flag! In this dark march toward whatever it is we're approaching. . . . Don't--don't hang back with the Brutes!"


November 27, 2015

Reading Aristotle: the difference between transitive activities and intransitive. The Butcher carves the bone :: an agent acts transitively upon a thing out there in the world. The Rose blooms. Intransitive. The Skull laughs. The object is within. The intransitive action begins in the agent and ends in the agent. Its intention is the perfection of the agent. I think of myself: I write. And now: what? I write words in a book. The pen hovers above the paper. I imagine the ink hanging inside of it, ready to stain the paper with lines that form symbols. The pen hangs above the paper in a moment of intransitive contemplation. Thought gathers like a terrible and vast black thunder cloud, blotting out the sun, turning day into night. Lightning cracks, thunder rages, winds blow. The pen full of ink trembles. The intransitive storm gathers into a horrible beautiful thing. The rose blooms. The skull laughs. 

***

My sister asked me if thought can ever be transitive and intransitive at the same time. 

What follows is my answer to her. I am painfully aware that encomiums on the finer points of grammar will kill interest faster than a minnow can swim a dipper.

But upon these these points hangs everything for me with regard to memory,  being and the creation of artifacts. 

My utmost concern follows Heidegger in that I am working to understand those things we take for granted, what is always "at hand," with regards to language and being. 

The Greek word for truth is aletheia - which can be translated as the state of "not being hidden" or better to my purposes, an un-forgetting. The Truth is at hand, but we take it for granted and have forgotten it. This ever present Truth is the "energy" inside the language.

Nietzsche wrote that he feared we will not be rid of God as long as we still have faith in grammar. I don't fear that, but I do believe that a transcendental ground for hope is embedded in the grammar of the language. Call it God or Truth or the Tao, if you like. But there is no singularity to it. It is ineffable. As a cup of water cannot contain the ocean.  

This energy within language is analogous to the energy that is within the atom and is just as destructive and awe-full. Consider how many millions have died fighting over a definition of the word, God?

I imagine a person learning the language for the first time. A transitive verb is like a catapult: the subject is loaded into the basket and the verb is a powerful spring that unleashes that embedded energy and "throws" it towards the object. 

The hammer hits the nail. 
The knife cuts the meat.

What is central to Aristotle is the built in, intrinsic, teleology of the object. The telos of the acorn is to become an oak tree. 

What happens to the energy of the language in the intransitive sense? Here there is no catapulting verb that releases the energy towards an object. The intransitive spools, collects, gathers the energy inwards in order to manifest the telos of the agent. (This "telos" in effect defining the nature of the agent.)

The rose blooms.
The skull laughs.
The man writes. 
The mother forgets.

[ Crucial for me is how Memory re-collects, re-gathers, re-members the world or a poem intransitively and transitively. For-getting is etymologically complicated but born out of the sense of "being unable to keep holding." It is the inwardly gathered energy of language that informs and sustains out grasp on memory. How for-get and for-give relate is a sublime mystery.]

And, of course, many verbs can be used transitively and intransitively, 

The pen writes words.
The mother forgets her name. 

So to answer your question: can thought be transitive and intransitive at he same time? Yes. And this was the essence of the piece I wrote to you. That moment where the inward turned intransitive thought is balanced with the outward projected expression. 

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless; 
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is.

Eliot's "still point of the turning world" in Four Quartets. It is a timeless moment of suspension between states. And was something of what I was, perhaps poorly, trying to convey in my short piece. 

***

I see your grass and I spy its greenness whilst I shiver here in my slough of muddy despond. I've hacked my way through to sonnet 129, which is the beginning of the "dark lady sequence." The ostensible subject of the poem is lust, but it punched me right in the gut with its sense of all the TIME that I have wasted. That I continue to waste. If Thoreau is correct in saying you can't kill time without injuring eternity, then I have caused severe damage in the eternal china shop. My lust as lust is a big bull, but my lust for "spiritual success" is the true beast. But an old beast, growing older. As I mentioned to you, it feels only now that my fires have died down enough to allow me to focus, to cook on coals and not in fiery flame. I worry every day that these glowing coals are growing colder. Too fast. And the days are darker and nights colder. I am a Neanderthal guarding a fading ember in a bed of cottony tinder. How much longer will it last? Paranoid thoughts of Alzheimer's with each unremembered name, cancer with each unusual blemish on the skin, syphilis when I pee, AIDS when I cough. All of this "expense of spirit in a waste of shame" is my thought in action. 


There is great solace in our friendship for me. It's one thing to be shipwrecked in the middle of the ocean; it is another thing entirely to be shipwrecked alone.


November 25, 2015

Reading Aristotle: the difference between transitive activities and intransitive. The Butcher carves the bone :: an agent acts transitively upon a thing out there in the world. The Rose blooms. Intransitive. The Skull laughs. The object is within. The intransitive action begins in the agent and ends in the agent. Its intention is the perfection of the agent. I think of myself: I write. And now: what? I write words in a book. The pen hovers above the paper. I imagine the ink hanging inside of it, ready to stain the paper with lines that form symbols. The pen hangs above the paper in a moment of intransitive contemplation. Thought gathers like a terrible and vast black thunder cloud, blotting out the sun, turning day into night. Lightning cracks, thunder rages, winds blow. The pen full of ink trembles. The intransitive storm gathers into a horrible beautiful thing. The rose blooms. The skull laughs. 


November 24, 2015

Golden proportions. Had a Thanksgiving Dinner at the hospital. Horrible and depressing. Those last stages of life when the skin hangs on the skeleton like a sad costume. The hearty forced laughter of the relatives. And the selfish childish behavior of the aged and infirm. All serve to manifest intense feelings of misanthropy in my soul. I hear myself covering my spleen and bile with courtesy and kindness and I feel like a wolf caught in s trap, wanting to gnaw my own leg off before I say another kind and lying word. 


November 20, 2015

My depressing rationalizations become more sophisticated and appear to have to sterile qualities of implacable logic. I hear someone explaining the blues and saying: the fact that the slaves could sing showed their pain was not unbearable. And I say no. There's no redemptive joy in the singing. It's just the ritualized sound of unending agony. So they say, as long as you can laugh about your pain, you'll be ok. But the laughter is not a relief, rather it is the sound of the tension just ratcheting up another level. No redemption. No relief. Just a joke with no punchline: there's a man tied to a dead tree in the desert. Seven vultures sit in the tree waiting. 

Or this... One vulture turns to the other and says: hey! Look alive! And all the vultures erupt with laughter.


November 19, 2015

Back in Bellingham for the winter. Plan to leave again the Spring. Austin was an exercise in understanding the patience of Job. Clarity in the misery that so many continue to water like Blake's Poison Tree. Resolution in the knowledge that the lights have gone out of the city I once loved. And the ever presentf determined resignation to carve a life somewhere relatively deserted. 

Reading translations of the Song of Simeon inLuke: 2:29-32, fighting that sense of being tied to the dead tree in the Desert, watching the Birds of Appetite, trying to look alive, considering the more shadowed meaning in Nunc Dimittis.

Of course, all hopeless roads lead back to Eliot:

The Song of Simeon - Eliot

Lord, the Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and
The winter sun creeps by the snow hills;
The stubborn season had made stand.
My life is light, waiting for the death wind,
Like a feather on the back of my hand.
Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land.

Grant us thy peace.
I have walked many years in this city,
Kept faith and fast, provided for the poor,
Have given and taken honour and ease.
There went never any rejected from my door.
Who shall remember my house, where shall live my children’s children
When the time of sorrow is come?
They will take to the goat’s path, and the fox’s home,
Fleeing from the foreign faces and the foreign swords.

Before the time of cords and scourges and lamentation
Grant us thy peace.
Before the stations of the mountain of desolation,
Before the certain hour of maternal sorrow,
Now at this birth season of decease,
Let the Infant, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word,
Grant Israel’s consolation
To one who has eighty years and no to-morrow.

According to thy word.
They shall praise Thee and suffer in every generation
With glory and derision,
Light upon light, mounting the saints’ stair.
Not for me the martyrdom, the ecstasy of thought and prayer,
Not for me the ultimate vision.
Grant me thy peace.
(And a sword shall pierce thy heart,
Thine also). 
I am tired with my own life and the lives of those after me,
I am dying in my own death and the deaths of those after me.
Let thy servant depart,
Having seen thy salvation.

***

The strangeness of the beautiful is one of the signatures The New. This cracks open Pound's Modernist injunction "Renovate, dod gast you, renovate!" (Pound's spelling) - most commonly quoted as, Make it new! The Sameness which has infected mass culture and is cultivated by the media is inimical to this Renovation. One of the qualities of your work that most interests me is this strangeness: the odd figurations of a wretched innocence that function as a mnemonic for a weird forgotten beauty in the same way a burnt match reminds you of a burning flame. 


November 17, 2015

Understood, replied the man who, over the last hour, has been pulling books like teeth to sell for a cup of coffee today. My travels this summer were a bright and shining mirror that showed me how everyone I know has acquired all of the brick and mortar trappings of adulthood. I console myself with zen parables about thieves trying to steal the moon's reflection in a bucket of water and fat men sucking in their guts in vainglorious attempts to fit through the eyes of needles. The only thing I have saved and invested my life in is freedom and The Work. There's a hill of beans out there that I am confident will be conquered by my dreams of "success." However, when it comes to betting on our bones, I'm putting the two nickels I've been rubbing together on you. I am happy to say I passed a solitary thanksgiving watching North by Northwest, reading the Truffaut Hitchcock interviews and thinking about Aristotle's notions of teleology.


November 15, 2015

Part of the ongoing conversation. The same old themes reiterated with some new jewelry. Writing as a means of working out these problems for myself: like working out possible solutions for an insoluable math problem. 

***

Lately, what holds the focus of my concern is how I think of myself. In other words, how do I remember who I am? I am partial to the word "recollection" - for all I know of this ghost that haunts this body called "Scot Casey" is merely a collection of experiences that I am able to remember. These memorable experiences are everything. And not just those I am able to actively recall as being in my mind, but also those that I can passively recognize as I am being in the world.

I imagine myself in the world similar to a character in a book or play or film. And it is easy to believe in the contingent narrative arc: that there is a meaning and a purpose to my existence. We all hope we are part of a more meaningful story. And this illuminates my memories, this contingency. It colors my memories and structures what I choose to remember of my self. But it is, at best, an illusion, at worst, a lie. 

Walking through enormous geological landscapes of inhuman beauty like Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, it is difficult to believe there is anything special to being human. (Curious. I just looked it up and was surprised to learn that all 7.3 billion humans on the planet, standing shoulder to shoulder, would only fill a 16.8 mile x 16.8 mile square. This square would fit easily into New York City with room for another half billion people. http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/03/7-3-billion-people-one-building.html ) In the context of the Grand Canyon, we are just a small pile of ants crawling around. Granted, post-Hiroshima, we are powerful enough ants to significantly alter the conditions for all life on the planet, but Nature will abide long after our destructions. Whatever stories (myths and religions) we choose to tell ourselves are, at best, approximations of Walllace Stevens' "Supreme Fictions." At worst, they are poisonous nursery rhymes or suicidal death cult chants. 

I force myself to meditate upon these dire mnemonics not to undermine my meaning but to give it a more accurate context. What is the meaning of life for that one deviant ant who left the colony and climbed a mountain? And in the greater context, what is the story I now tell myself to give meaning to my life? 

I am surprised - and not surprised -  to see how many people's sense of self is composed of how they think other's see them. Beyond even the human reflexes of sympathy, our society is obsessed with reflected self-image. I believe the erosion of the theological core of our culture over the last 200 years, combined with the dire effects of industrialized, mechanized and commodified society (mass war, genocide, mass murders) have resulted in an enormous vacancy of meaning and value. This haunting "nostalgia for the absolute" has left most desperate for ANY belief at all that offers even the most tenuous and superficial sort of meaning: pseudoscience, Marxism, post-structuralism. In the most vacuous of intellects, the vicarious life lived through celebrity culture and its subsequent effects in pop culture is supremely debilitating. Like a cotton candy plastic rot at the center of the Western psyche.

I think of the lives of many artists, poets, philosophers - Saints, Monks and Mystics - who were not haunted by the Great Emptiness, the "nostalgia for the absolute." The sense of Duty as a Categorical Imperative, that they had no choice but to act as they did, and the opinions of others mattered little if anything. To persist in your folly to the point of damnation or wisdom, to paint, write, compose, in spite of cold and bitter condemnation. At the extreme: those Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire and burned to death while sitting calmly in meditation. As a way to live without burning: to commit yourself to the endeavor utterly and completely: the mountain climber without a rope where the only way out is to continue up. The tightrope walker with no net at the in between point where there is no greater safety in going back or forward. 

Doubt is the like the sound of a useless generator running outside the house of my thinking; I have become so used to it that I no longer hear it as a noxious noise pollution. But in those truly quiet moments when I turn it off, then it seems I can hear and respond to a quiet and insistent voice within me that, for lack or a better language, sounds holy. 

The last few days, here in Austin, have been plagued with doubt and frustration. The useless generator has been replaced with a convoy of thunderous semi-tractor trailers idling outside. The only way to hear myself has been to scream or cry. I leave on Tuesday. I return to a temporal if not a spatial sanctuary to "recollect" my self, to hopefully remember the Story that keeps whispering itself to me like a prayer.


November 10, 2015

I've always had this sense while reading the Greek dramas that humankind was not a welcome presence in the world, that the gods were busy doing what they do and humanity was a loathsome distraction. The tragic series of events which determined Oedipus' life is case in point. Koestler believed we were an evolutionary mutation: a crocodile riding a horse carrying a machine gun was his image. I often wondered what that beast thinks about when confronted with beauty. Is the David just a crack of lightning? Is a museum just a haunted sanctuary from the storm? Three piece suits, students with backpacks, pipe smoking hipsters with hats crawl around Austin with blinders like those old workhorses. What do human artifacts of beauty mean in a world where we are an unwelcome presence? Rats congregated around an insignificant arrangement of bones on a cross in a corner of the cathedral, oblivious to the transcendent Truth that surrounds them.

***

Hi! I was sleeping restlessly in the short bed made for a seven year old girl. She wasn't there. The Rockdale sale was barely successful and difficult. I was in line behind a fat daddy at the Brookshires arguing with a cashier about a nickel difference in the price of a hog fog he was probably just gonna stick up his ass later and make his poodle eat of him. So it was like getting blood from a stone to get these people to buy a dusty piece of hoarder junk. Still have to drive back up to Rockdale to clean up and bring more "product" back down to Austin. There is another sale this weekend. Working hard on that one. Hopefully, will make some money off this one. Otherwise I'm broker than an elephant's high heels. 


October 28, 2015

"William Blake once remarked that he had to create his own system of thought to avoid being enslaved by those of another, and Sartre had said that genius is what a man invents when he is looking for a way out."

- Hayden Carruth in his introduction to Nausea


October 26, 2015

In Nausea, there is a moronic cafe proprietor. Sartre says of him, "when his cafe empties, his head empties too." In other works he goes on to explicate "the gaze of the other." How reflexively we see ourselves through other's eyes. It's at the core of being human, binds us together through sympathy, gives birth to morality. But it also limits our freedom. What would everyone think if I did X? And what if "the other" is a sheep like creature, a herd creature? Following this cartoonish analogy, if the wolf is sensitive to the gaze of the sheep, it would suppress its own wolffish nature. Because to be gazed upon is to be judged. The transcendent gravity of beauty attracts the gaze and desires judgement. But the criminal avoids the gaze, hiding behind masks, lies and deceptions to escape judgement. While traveling, moving from solitude to society, i became especially sensitive to how "the gaze of the other affected me." And was heartened that I didn't feel it defining any aspect of my freedom. In short, I was more wolffish. But upon return to this pleasant town, old reflexes and habits re-engaged in response to the happy gaze of others. I felt more herd-like and somewhat resentful of my wolffish nature. Social Media reinforced and even amplified this. And my resentment began to poison me. After leaving Facebook yesterday, not even 24 hours has passed and the resentment is gone. It's a devious subtlety where you "get used" to the ever-present buzz of the engine of it all. However, when it is turned off, you remember the pure beauty of true silence. And how much clearer your thinking, your memory, your dreams are in such silence. The same without the gaze of the other. The question I've been asking myself since returning is how to keep the clarity and energy of solitude while in society? Can I maintain the "traveling mind" while I am not moving? I am still working out the answer. But I do know that disengaging from the "gaze of the other" is a necessary and critical act towards this solution.


October 25, 2015

Shelton: The one area on Saatchi that is the most similar to social media is the comment section on the Collections. It's frustrating to me that genuinely talented artists with access to this verbal forum can muster no more than a "great work!" or "thanks for including me!"

They leave apples on the desk of the curator and curtsy benignly. Too often the comments are filled with disenfranchised who wonder aloud why they're never chosen and plead with the curator Rebecca please! Look at my work!!! With various urls appended. 
I hate seeing myself reflected in their desperation. 
It feels like a crowded noisy auditorium. The entrance and the exit are the same door in the back. Everyone wants to be up front and you know if the place catches on fire they'll all step on your face to get out. 

Me: My love / hate relationship with social media is certainly more on the hate side these days. Thinking is diminished into parroted platitudes. Language is eroded into tired cliches and banal memes. People use it as a primary information source and it infects their thinking with its trivialities. Worst to me us the leveling of value where someone's cat photo with the caption "guess who woke me up because they were hungry?" is immediately followed by someone else's post of a photo of people starving because they have been displaced by war. Ah two angry old men ranting about technology!

Shelton: I think it's clear that Twitter has found a niche in the grass roots of global politics and Everyman reportage. Just as clear that the reductive word count is just that; bumpetstickering. 

I can't speak to Instagram cause I've never cracked it open. But I can say that almost every conversation I have about photography the phrase," in the age of Instagram" enters in. 

I did spend a few months on Facebook in 2009 and my experience with it can be summed up in an observation and a fact. 

It is an exact analogy to the Walmartization of commerce in The U.S.; one stop shopping that depletes and bankrupts the real in favor of the conjectured. Viewed from street level you see all the signs/illusions of community. Viewed above and beyond you a movie set of flats and fronts with nothing substantial behind or inside except advertisers propping it up saying if you're not on board you're not involved in the hottest thing since the hoopla hoop. That's the observation. 
Here's the fact:while on I accrued some 600 "friends" worldwide. Leading up to my premeditated  exit announcement I did some work and collected emails and real addresses  and reached out said "I was unplugging" but wanted to stay in touch". Of those 600 friends the ones the only that came with me were the friends I had going in. I tried but there was no interest. If I wasn't going to be in the church I wasn't invited to the potluck dinner. 

Me: Dead on. I'm always on the alert when a giant corporate entity is trying to give me something for free. It's never free. And it's all the further commodification of the self. Public and private. Even the dissent, the ironic stance and my "I'm using it and not allowing it to use me" is commodified. Like a choking vine around a tree, I can feel it tightening, choking and feeding off of me. The illusion of community it creates is pernicious. What "good" it does is out on the long tails of the Bell Curve: disaster relief, families that have lost everything in a fire, assistance to refugees. The danger is where the tail connects to the body of the curve: those selfsame desires to help and relieve can create mass hysteria, the madness of crowds and witch hunt mentalities. But I'll not argue against these wretched impulses that collect around the temple of genuinely good acts. It's the commodification and manipulation of the vast bulk of the Bell Curve, what constitutes the majority of our lives, that alarms me most. It's subtle and subconscious in the ways it shapes the process of thought, of attentions and distractions. Hume's paradox was once answered by Bread and Circuses; now Obesity and Social Media. Both send deep psychological roots into the other. As you point out so well: it is all an illusion of reality, Baudrillard's simulation, that is increasing seen as normal. You can expose the false facades and surrounding sound stages; you can point out the obvious forms of manipulation and distraction; it makes no difference. The pleasure center pulse of participating in the simulation is too strong. These are not your friends. This is not your life. It is a black hole of such subtle gravity that it sucks your life away from you and leaves only a content, pacified, distracted, disengaged ghost staring into the machine. 

Yes, I'm still on Facebook and Instagram. The ex-junkie who rages too strongly against the perils of drug use. His rig and bag of dope hidden behind the false face of righteous indignation. Just gonna keep this here to show how strong I am by not using. And there no such thing as an ex-junkie, only one who isn't doing drugs anymore. A subtlety I know intimately. 

Shelton: It's all why I'm a hypocrite when it comes to Saatchi. Meet the new boss same as the old boss. I resent the fuck out the stage redressed to exploit my desire for exposure and sells. Let's face it's what I get what I deserve. I can't help but feel like a lab rat whose habits/appetites/tendencies are being recorded on a corporate clipboard or spreadsheet; "this one think it's funny. Put it in a collection and see how it trends..."

Me: I feel the same. Having posted photos of my travels to Instagram and Facebook, now noticing how many "articles" (500 word advertisements) are about travel, national parks, hiking and camping. I'm a fucking tool being heavily used. I want to focus on The Work. And see all of this as a horsefly that I can swat away and go on working. But it's obnoxious and keeps biting, literally bugging me. I keep thinking there is a way to stay in, promote, make money. I don't know. I image a place in the mountains or desert. Table. Books. Paper. Pen. Food. Purity Simplicity and, hopefully, Grace. I am sitting in a local cafe looking out across the city, going across the street to the Y to exercise my flesh, then back to my room on the hill to read and write and play guitar. I see people in my "social media circle" everywhere as I walk down the streets. Everyone is happy to see me. Rave about the photos. Asking when I'm performing again. Why does it feel wrong to me? Like my mother dressed me for Sunday School? Why does this pleasant peaceful world seem like a prison to me? And the compass of my heart points always back to solitude and silence? Ah... I know the answers, but keep asking the questions. The only response is to act. 

Also, I deactivated my Facebook account. Xxx


October 23, 2015

The Old Woman goes on a walk every morning at 7 o'clock. No one is old enough to remember a time when she wasn't walking in the morning. She's as dependable as a clock. Many of the townspeople know the hour and minute of the morning according to her passing by their door. A young mother notes her walking steadily down the road. Like many in the town, she doesn't remark the time but says instead, "the old lady is passing by, hurry along children or you'll be late for school." 

So it was alarming to all when they realized they were arriving at their jobs and appointments a little earlier each day. And they began to watch the Old Woman with some concern. They noted that her previously steady pace had indeed quickened. And that every now and again, she gave a quick glance behind her. In every house along the way, heads appeared from windows and doors, following the Old Woman's glance backwards, trying to divine what was behind her, what was making her walk a little faster every day. But no could see anything there. Yet, with each passing day she walked faster and faster until she was nearly running down the road, always looking fearfully over her shoulder. Some tried to talk to her, to ask her why she was running, to help in some way. But any attempt to stop her only increased her panic and fear. 

Then one night, all were awakened to the steady sound of a horse's hooves and a rattling cart upon the stone. Fearful faces looked out from shuttered windows and cracked doors. A darkly shrouded figure sat upon a upon a black horse pulling a cart made of bones behind him. He passed slowly by all until he came to the Old Woman's cottage. A few neighbors swear they saw her open the door and walk out to meet the horseman. They said they saw him lift her up like a white sheet and toss her into the cart behind him. Regardless, everyone could hear the fading sound of the hooves and the rattling cart. 

The next morning when the townspeople went into the cottage, they found the Old Woman's body cold as a stone, curled up in the center of the floor. Around her was a circle of blood where she had walked her feet raw. A religious man took the sheet off the bed and wound it around her. Another helped him set her on the table. No one said a word. 

They all stood there waiting for what they did not know. The only sound: the ticking of the clock in the kitchen. After a moment, a fearful old woman walked over to it and stopped it with a sigh. 


October 22, 2015

It dawned on me this morning that I've been back in Bellingham for 13  days. It's startling how quickly everything complexifies. Over the last week it feels as if I have a trained circus of conversational poodles and dancing bears that come bursting into the tent whenever I'm asked a particular question about my travels. There is an internal sense of the trainer (myself) not wanting the act to get old, so I keep tweaking the show - adding another bear, put this one on a ball, give that one an umbrella. After a short time, it's all just an increasingly surreal response to the mundane. The question "how were your travels" is answered by a flaming giraffe's head suddenly carried into the room by 27 monkeys dressed as bell hops riding poodles barking Straus' Also Sprach Zarathustra. 

And I know it's getting weird for everyone around me. Everything is sticky. I shake someone's hand and come away with this sticky residue that I try to remove with my other hand and now it's covered. I hug another and now it's all over me. What is this stickiness? Human warmth and love? Attachment? Desire? And let's not even talk about kissing someone you deeply care about... where this "stickiness" is alchemically transformed into a sort of honey-like lubrication. The question returns: has it really just been 13  days? Crowded hours in my memory where it seems as if I have just stepped off a raft of solitude and am now waking up in the finest bed in the finest room of the finest Cruise ship and wondering why I can no longer see the stars and hear the ocean. 

I was asked, light heartedly, when I returned if I felt like Odysseus. To which I, of course, answered with a heavy mind: mythically, Of course not! There was no ten-years war, no ten-years wandering under the curse of an angry God. But in the more mundane sense of it and in the manner articulated by Tennyson and Kazantzakis, Yes! Once the bodies of the dead suitors are burned to ash, the new puppy house broken, Telemachus returned to running the farm and Penelope returned to ruling the Kingdom, I imagine Odysseus upon his easy throne, gazing out the window and dreaming of Nausica or Circe or some clever episode with a god's idiot son. "It's not too late to seek a newer world." In my own quotidian way, as you indicate, I return to no dog, no son, no faithful wife and no kingdom. But happier all the more for these things I do not have. And anyone who has spent even a short time falling asleep with his eyes full of stars and awoken with his ears full of birds, who has stood on the Golden Gate Bridge thinking of Randall Jarrell and Robinson Jeffers and the Brooklyn Bridhe with Hart Crane and Melville, this homunculus of an Odysseus will no longer be content with even the best his meager world might offer. The blood of my Bellingham sheep's clothing is fresh and I snap at myself habitually, stand apart from the herd and worry that my brain is damaged because I no longer understand their language soaked in tears and the idiot drool of the aged and infirm. 

I am asked: what are you going to do now that you trip is over? As if what I experienced was a mere parentheses in the long sentence of my life. And I reply: Over? The last six months were not parentheses, not coda, but prelude. But they say to me: now that you've returned, what are you going to do to make a living? As if I am not making a living under the auspices of Edward Abbey and Thoreau and Diogenes? But what are you going to do here in Bellingham to make money? They ask furthrr, coming to the point. Money. Money. I wonder if I am clever enough to make it without selling anything, mostly my soul. Am I smart enough to find some form of exchange that grants me enormous freedom and celebrates the possibilities of creation? I hope so. My plan is to continue on my way, ever deeper through America and the World. Let Eli Whitney save the backs of a million blues singers, I want to be the cotton boll that is separated into a diamond and a flame. 

I return to Austin  for the month of November, working estate sales and Rock n Roll memorabilia sales, doing graphic design for a coffee roaster and crawling under houses to shoot rattlesnakes with a shotgun. Going to try to get down to Mexico for a week or so. John, I'm going to try to make it back up to Dallas. Would love to see you. Otherwise, anytime we all could meet together, perhaps after the turn of the year, would be beautiful.


October 21, 2015

It dawned on me this morning that it was just one week ago that you and I were sitting across from each other at the Black Drop. It's startling how quickly everything complexifies. Over the last week it feels as if I have a trained circus of conversational poodles and dancing bears that come bursting into the tent whenever I'm asked a particular question about my travels. There is an internal sense of the trainer (myself) not wanting the act to get old, so I keep tweaking the show - adding another bear, put this one on a ball, give that one an umbrella. After a short time, it's all just an increasingly surreal response to the mundane. The question "how were your travels" is answered by a flaming giraffe's head suddenly carried into the room by 27 monkeys dressed as bell hops riding poodles barking Straus' Also Sprach Zarathustra. And I know it's getting weird for everyone around me. Everything is sticky. I shake someone's hand and come away with this sticky residue that I try to remove with my other hand and now it's covered. I hug another and now it's all over me. What is this stickiness? Human warmth and love? Attachment? Desire? And let's not even talk about kissing someone you deeply care about... where this "stickiness" is alchemically transformed into a sort of honey-like lubrication. The question returns: has it really just been seven days? Crowded hours in my memory where it seems as if I have just stepped off a raft of solitude and am now waking up in the finest bed in the finest room of the finest Cruise ship and wondering why I can no longer see the stars and hear the ocean. 

I want to cultivate that "sweet lightness" that you spoke of. I don't want there to be this heaviness between us. But there is an awkwardness I have these days around everyone - especially those I am close to. I have an image of a clown who wakes up after a beautiful dream of a happy domestic non-circus life. He is in the middle of a barren field. The Circus has left him behind. He gets the idea that maybe he can just blend in and stay in the town nearby until the Circus returns. He starts walking down the road and meets a man. The man offers his hand. The clown shakes it with his gag buzzer. The man gets angry and storms off. The clown stands there not understanding and a car passes close by and runs over his big clown shoes and swears at him for being in the way. Then he meets a beautiful woman. He offers her a flower and she reaches for it and it squirts water all over her face. She slaps him and hurries away. Next, he goes to a coffee shop and his red nose falls off into a cup of coffee and spills it all over the counter. He is kicked out into the rain. Somewhere someone is practicing a sad violin. He sits down now on the curb in the pouring rain and with great ceremony opens the skeleton of an umbrella. He looks up at the sky and smiles. And I'd like imagine he is happy there. Happy to remember how long he dreamed of being a clown, happy to know he is utterly and irrevocably a clown, that he will always be a clown. Even at his loneliest moment, even when his suffering is most acute, he is still a clown. God's Fool until he dies.

"You blew me off. That hurt. Fool, yes, you are. But I am no little dancing dog companion. I won't watch you prance off a cliff. I realized that I hate to see you drink, knowing that it is bad for your liver, already diseased and misused. I hate to see you further hurt your health in the name of immediate pleasure, hurt me because it seemed like a better plan to get drunk with michelle rather than spend a sober night in bed with me. I hate the lie that is calling it all by any other name, poetic or not, than avoidance and self-destruction. I came to realize too that I also hate the pedestal, the dream that makes me seem covered in honey until I dare express a feeling that doesn't perpetuate your illusion of me. You were unthinking Saturday --disappointing, but salvageable -- but drunk again on Sunday night. I just can't watch it, won't. It makes me feel physically ill. You are too important...and won't listen to me anyway."

Thank you. I honestly appreciate your concern. Any attempt at explanation will seem like excuse, so I won't. I am far healthier now than I was when I left. Easy to say when you were fat and out of shape and deeply depressed. But I know there is always room to be a better person, stronger and healthier, better "tempered," closer to God. This is the path I'm on. The most difficult part of it, so far, is where it leads me around other people. As stated many times, I am not comfortable around others. Being lone and solitary seems to be all signs are pointing. 

Hmm. Well perhaps we should speak in person. My blood pressure when I left was 225/115. A dentist refused to repair a broken tooth b/c he feared I would die in his chair. The doctor at Interfaith gave me less than a year to live. I care little for Vanity. I've lived deeply immersed in people for 53 years. And don't get me wrong: I love them. More now than I did before traveling. But my Way leads away from them. Perhaps only for a few years or more. I've been intimate with alcoholism most of my adult life. For the last six months, I had (on average) a couple of drinks a week. Months went by without a drink. I returned to Bellingham with a sense of joy and celebration. The reopening of the Bureau, Kitchen Sessions. But this is silly. Again explanation sounds like anxious defense. But I feel it is unfair to be judged as an alcoholic so readily by you. Yes, I drink alcohol. I will continue to. But of all the aspects of myself that need to be changed, alcohol is not that important to me. I'm not worried about it. Spoken like a true alcoholic, you say. Well, we can discuss the subtleties of addiction and self-destructive behavior in-person. I would love to. But I will assure you as my friend who I care for so deeply, I am far far healthier now than I have ever been since you have known me. I'm really proud of all that I have done to get to where I am. I wear it like a medal on my psyche's lapel. (My blood pressure now is 125/90.) And I have no intention of falling back to where I've been for the last 5 years. I understand you have a sensitivity to this issue and I respect that. Please take care of yourself. You are beautiful. And thank you for your concerns about my mental and physical health. 

"1/2 No, no. You're right. Maybe I'm too quick to jump on that. Too quick to diagnose and judge. I do hate seeing you drunk. That is true. That doesn't make  you an alcoholic. I apologize."

One last thing: the last six months have been committed to a daily, hourly, moment by moment meditation, contemplation and, as you say, confrontation with my entire life. For six months with no interruption. Such a gift to have the time and space to deeply explore myself. The insanity and slow death of my mother, the insanity of my step-father, the reconciliation and final farewell to me real father, the death of close friends and children, the betrayal of some of my closest friends, the active turning away and condemnation of me by people I loved. Revisiting my childhood homes, schools and graves of family and friends. In fact, the entire trip in many ways was an active, intentional and focused exploration of my innermost self. We talked about this. That you are somehow suggesting that I have not looked deep enough into myself and not thoroughly enough explored childhood trauma and abuses is facile and glib and sort of surreal to me. Again, let's sit down and get the meat and bones out on the table. These issues are ALL I want to think about and talk about. Where I traveled on the exterior was beautiful. But my interior travels were sublime and mythic and overflowing with the sacredness of Being. I am happy to begin this conversation with you. Because in comparison, everything else is trivial. Xxx

"Why did you blow me off on Saturday? "

Oh Sarah! You are so beautiful! Saturday night changed for me the moment you told me you were upset I'd been drinking. As I said, I was in a celebratory state of mind. I gave myself a week after arriving back in town to "see everyone." And it's been so nice. That you were upset disturbed me. I left not long after. I felt all of my years weighing upon my bones. Felt suddenly empty and fatigued. And the most hated thing: I questioned myself and doubted myself and was suddenly in a very dark state of mind. (That I am just now emerging from.) I also felt physically sick and have been fighting a respiratory infection. Mostly I felt spiritually emptied of a sudden, lost to my desert, my sand and my stars. I knew I'd disappointed you. And I knew I didn't want to fake it or try to finesse my way through it with you and Mike. You scare me at times in how much I depend upon your grace and respect for who I am. I was suddenly resentful of thus power I gave you. I looked at my tired fave in the mirror and convinced myself that discretion would be the better part of valor. I have too much respect for, I have too much respect for Mike, to subject either of you to me in a fit of self-doubt and self-hatred. No matter how much it would have sounded like dark humor or alcoholic "wit." I will never do anything to hurt you and I am so sorry that I did.  

"1/2 Look. I see now that I am looking for reasons to keep you under wraps, at a distance, diminished. And I'm seeing now I'm probably still mad. Sad. Madder than I thought. What a mess. This is too much for me right now. "

1/2 "Jesus  I just wanted a butt massage!! How did a simple butt massage between friends get so convoluted? I think maybe I need to. I don't know. Have feelings? More often. So that not everything comes out like a goddamn bursting dam at the slightest touch. "

I don't know what happened. But I think we both knew that we are strongly reactive with each other: gasoline/match, nitroglycerin/hammer, your butt/my hands. I just don't want you to hurt or feel low or bad in any way. I don't want to feel that way. But you and I are both enormous creatures like great trees, being close is magical but limbs are being bent and leaves are shaking and it takes some time to navigate closeness without doing damage. I do not want to do anything that might damage you. It makes me want to sock myself in the face. If we could take a few steps back and untangle our limbs and just be quiet, that would be beautiful. But slow, right? I know we / you / I need some time. Just know how much I respect you and honor you and some word that's like adore but not as lovey but still conveys how I feel deep down. 



October 1, 2015

THE HANDS OF GOD
D.H. Lawrence 

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
But it is a much more fearful thing to fall out of them.
Did Lucifer fall through knowledge?
Oh, then, pity him, pity him that plunge!
Save me, O God, from falling into the ungodly knowledge
of myself as I am without God.
Let me never know, O God
let me never know what I am or should be
when I have fallen out of your hands, the hands of the living God.
That awful and sickening endless sinking, sinking
through the slow, corruptive levels of disintegrative knowledge
when the self has fallen from the hands of God,
and sinks, seething and sinking, corrupt
and sinking in the endless undoing, the awful katabolism into the abyss!
even of the soul, fallen from the hands of God.
Save me from that, O God!
Let me never know myself apart from the living God!


September 11, 2015

I'm out here just down the road from the property at a BBQ / Beer bar called Hillbillyz. Beer's cold and the meat smells sweet and beautiful. It's the Heart of Texas out here. The Pulse of Savage Ground. People seem solid and good hearted. There's a biker in the corner of the patio that overlooks a small pond; he's watching some hummingbirds feed. A couple of deer are off in the distance under a strand of live oak and cedar. It's hard scrabble ground. The ranch roads cut limestone white through the grass and scrub.  I crossed a hand-full of low water crossings that probably flood out in a heavy rain. Seems difficult and beautiful out here. Close enough to Kerrville and Blanco. Or San Antonio. Traffic into and out of Austin was rough out to Dripping Springs then just disappeared. It'd be a good place to build a small cabin and retreat from the world. Much further away from any Concord than Walden - and I doubt the presence of any Emersons - but in this over-connected age, just about right. There's some farming the bottom lands: an organic farm and hay. Lots of cattle. Big ranch down the road, the We6. I imagine a lots of goats do well out here. Anything that won't die easy. 


May 31, 2015

I AM being hard on myself and I have high expectations of my self as a human being. 

From where I am now, I can see I was dying in Bellingham. Physically fat and lazy, infected with bad habits. Spiritually empty and intellectually unmotivated. In just 6 weeks, I have crawled out of that hole I made for myself. But while I am much healthier and more focused, I still have a great many residual modes of behavior I need to overcome... Like having overly high expectations of other people or being easily disappointed in other's behavior. 

I am a vicious judge of my self. And one of my worst qualities is to transfer that to others that do not deserve it. Everyone is struggling in the storm of this life in their own way - even the morally vacant and intellectually challenged. 

As I move deeper into this Dark Night of the Soul, I am find myself confronted with Love, not Eros but Agape. And the Presence of an Enormous Absence. I need to become more withdrawn and self-reliant and not depend on those close to me for anything.


May 8, 2015

San Francisco is beautiful: the de Young museum, the Academy of Science, the Japanese Tea Garden, Botanical Garden and walking around Golden Gate Park. Was at an art opening last night for an old friend, Jennie. Stayed with my old roommate, Amy Jo and her husband. Going to a poetry reading at a bonfire tonight. Yosemite on Sunday.


February 19, 2015

Days are strange, night stranger.

Not feeling myself recently. Or perhaps feeling myself more than ever. Easing into increased solitude before I leave, my mind seems unhinged, detached from it's usual props and anchors. In the pressure of the Gaze of the Other - imagined in my mind only - I am the Great Betrayer. The One Who Abandons, who was never truly here in the first place. 

My defense is shallow: I am seeking to resolve my own emptiness by measuring it against the world's. God's absence as profound a presence as the Sun itself. This Great Hollowness to everything. Out there in some version of the Wilderness, I hope to follow the trail God took as he was leaving this world, searching for any tell-tale sign and mark that might have been left for those of us who cared to follow. 

But, still here, waiting to leave, I feel I am getting lost. My spirit is already gone. I feel like I am just acting in a bad high-school drama, going through the motions, impatient for it all to be over so I can be alone. 

Recently, in my lifelong battle with the bottle, which everyone always loses, I have begun to suspect that I might be losing. The distinction is fine: what happens to everyone will not happen to me. This crack is for medicinal purposes. I can handle my cups. Noticing I look more and more like tool, like a suitcase, everyday. I have resumed my memory work with some renewed enthusiasm and note how even a few beers devastates my mind the next day, not to mention half a bottle of tequila. I no longer have the spirits I once had, but I have the bottles I drank them in. 

The Dentist refused to work on me because my blood pressure was too high. Sobering to one who hadn't even been drinking. Bad liver, broken heart, busted tooth, no sense of smell, hearing fading and my libido run off like a dog that isn't get fed enough. 


January 22, 2015

A friend's father recently passed away. She sent me this:

"Today I took a few photos and a bunch of old tools. I left the 6 skill saws, 12 rusty hand saws, 8 deep sea fishing rods, 4 tap and die sets, 2 burned out smokers, books and screwdrivers and countless ratchet sets. Boots and vases and trim nails. Sewing machines, type writers, broken routers, sanders, jigsaws and several chainsaws. I took the rusty metal boxes those ratchet sets came in, spilled empty, and the wood-handled planes and Yankee drills. The plumb-bobs from the surveying equipment and the one small, blue chainsaw that he used more than the heavier ones. I took most of the levels. I'm going to crack them open and keep the parts with the bubbles. Maybe I'll make a necklace that can tell me when I'm off-kilter. I couldn't find any of his leather tool belts. They've just disappeared."

What follows is my reply. I send it to you because it seemed as if you were listening while I was writing. These things I want to tell you also.

I think your list of objects from your father's place is beautiful, lonely, poetic. 

I've got my own similar lists. I always think of that Tim O'Brien novel, The Things They Carried. These objects they surrounded themselves with, weird totems and fetishes and signs that once perhaps defined them and now only outline their absence. I search for the oddest objects, the tiny white doll from a king cake, the fishing lure or an old silver spoon. That and those from everyday use - extensions of their being: a hairbrush with strands of hair, a pair of scratched glasses, a tube of lipstick shaped to a curve. I look around my place, wondering what I am carrying. It makes me nauseous to sense myself in a thing. 

I want to get rid of as much as I can. Reduce it down like those solids dissolved in a solution, the solution heated and boiled down until things hidden reappear: a baby tooth rescued from the tooth fairy, a pair of dice given to me by my unlucky uncle, a buckeye my grandfather kept in his tackle box for good fortune in fishing, a joker from a deck of cards, a feather, a sea-shell, a bone that I once held for hours while tripping on LSD, the dried black petals of a rose thrown in my face by lost love. The connecting thread of magic and mystery and hope as obvious as an open wound. I want to reduce it all down to essence of the essence. Just enough to fit in a small bag that I can carry around my neck like they once did who were here long ago. 

I don't play poker. But today, after a several months of holding a losing hand against the dealer, after anteing up every bit of money I have, the hospital folded. What this means is that after two and a half years of having to hustle money every month - thousands and thousands of dollars - I no longer, rather the estate no longer, has any medical debt. Any money that I make from here on out is my own. I can't tell you how liberating this is. I feel like I have been living under water - in a deep trench - the pressure working weirdly on my mind and my soul. Finally, I am moving back to the surface, decompressing. Finally, there is the real possibility that I can resume my life, that I can travel for a while, that I can be free. 

This decompression. I want to get as far away from another human as I can. A week's hike into the mountains with no one in sight. A thousand feet above the world on a mountain. I want to feel what it is like to be that lone. Not alone. Lone, like the ranger. No phone. No computer. No recourse to friends and family. Just myself and the great uncaring wheel of the universe rolling above me. I imagine it will be terrifying. I imagine I will want to tear off my skin. But if I can endure that, I believe I will finally be able to be at peace with myself. Or I will just cut myself open, arms and legs, bleed out beside the dying fire and hope that my bones will litter a wolf's den. 


2014


December 21, 2014

So I am working on my goat story/ film / performance at the Honey Moon on New Year's Eve...

and I keep being drawn back to horoscope readings...

can't find anything there to connect to...

but, for some reason, I keep looking...

then, I read the article that I quote below...

and suddenly, I realize: Capricorn - Solstice - GOAT

THE GOAT IS CAPRICORN!

So obvious! and this performance is my kind of reenactment of a rebirth in the New Year.

Now, it all makes sense.

***

2014, Dec 21st NEW MOON in CAPRICORN & WINTER SOLSTICE - Lunar Dreamology by Phoenix - 

Capricorn tradition and its origin is the Goat “Koza” means Goat and Capricorn the Goat has had a long and sacred tradition on earth within the rituals of our Ancestors. Gwiddon Harveston wrote that one of the typical traditional Koliada (Winter Solstice) songs is...

“It is not just us coming
we are leading the Goat
Where the Goat will go
the grain stock will grow! 
Where she shakes her tail
there will be an abundance of grain. 
Where goat stomps her hoof
they’ll be harvest through the roof!
Where goat shakes her horns there
will be great huge stack of corn!”

Goat by its nature is full of abundance, she gives milk, she gives us cheeses and meat as well. Capricorn is represented as a Mountain Goat and the Sea Goat was seen in ancient Mesopotamian cultures as Ninurta, the God of Fertility and Agriculture. Unlike his brother Nergal (Mars), Ninurta was seen as firm and reliable, slow and steady in his movement through the sky which ultimately gave him the title... 'Sun of the Night' not a return of the light. This links it to the Winter Solstice of the Koliada Wheel of the Sun which burns at Night. Symbolically meaning we are darkened by the season of the night and when we let our light be our strength of our struggles, we learn personal responsibility for our true natures. Our earthly responsibilities in the Winter season can be harsh or difficult and sometimes the quality of how we learn to fight, retreat, bow or flight - is also contributed from our family's "emotional traditions".


December 17, 2014

"Once a rabbi met the prophet Elijah.  The rabbi asked Elijah, “When will the messiah come?” Elijah said, “Go and ask him yourself when he’s coming.” The rabbi said, “Where is he?” Elijah said, “He’s sitting at the city gate, covered in bandages’ (an alternate version of this story has the messiah changing the bandages of the lepers at the city gate). So the rabbi went and asked the messiah, “When will you come?” The messiah said, “Today.”

"The rabbi came back and relayed this to Elijah: “The messiah is coming today!” Elijah responded with temperance, saying “the messiah meant today, if you listen to God’s voice.” The tradition practically begs us to realize, the messiah is here. The world to come is here. The unknown is as close as your breath. What this means is that, as Wendell Berry writes, “What we need is here”; yet we must be careful to not grasp in the presence of that knowing, lest we fall to irretrievably into the world of names."

–Joshua Boettiger, NAMING THE UNNAMEABLE: Advice on living in two worlds, PARABOLA, Fall 2012, “The Unknown.”


November 3, 2014

Goethe on The Secret:

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. "

I first experienced this "providence" when I was at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. I noticed the absolute belief of the monks was being reciprocated. I was astonished. I didn't understand this at the time. I just knew I wanted it. Later, I understood this as Grace. And for much of my life, I have striven to commit myself to a way of life that opened up the possibility for Grace. It is a state of being golden, in harmony, in step with the Universe. Here are the roots of Astrology, Tarot, I-Ching and all manner of sacred divination. I have lived without Grace for many years of my life. And I would say that its absence is the precise definition of Hell. 

Living in a manner that cultivates Grace is the highest purpose of life. From this, all good acts flow: music, poetry, writing, painting and all creative acts are as natural as breathing. My desire - desire as an aimless path - is to commit the remainder of my years to the Great Yes! of the Universe: acknowledging the suffering and sorrow and still being able to laugh and shout Yes! into the Void. I have no doubt that by choosing meaning over meaninglessness, life over death and hope over despair the the Universe, Goethe's "providence", my Grace, will come to my side to protect and promote me on my Way. And when the time is right, unfold the Mystery that is always right before me. 


November 2, 2014

I've been seriously considering turning a resume for  _________. The Executive Director. Sounds prestigious and powerful.

But then I saw several images they posted to their Facebook page. I have attached them below.

It was mostly the balloon photo and the puppy. Puppies and balloons. This safe and sanitized Truman show city celebrating one of the most pagan ceremonies of our culture with Hallmark laced, commodified and homogenized cute lil acts of sweet warm comfortable sameness. 

I realized it would be a terrible mistake for me to work there. Being honest with myself, it would have been terrible for them to hire me. There are much more qualified candidates than me in the sense that they have spent their entire lives within a bureaucratic environment. They are happy to tow the party line back to the center, to the average and necessarily normal, if not quietly desperate, way of living and supporting downtown.

I am not that person. Nor do I want to be. But the lure of being able to change things from within, of trying to shake things up and push the idea of how a city is might operate to the benefit of everyone: rich and poor, young and old, local or foreign; that was a very seductive idea to consider. 

However, as I have remarked to you, I feel as if I have spent the last two years in a sort of velvet prison, constantly putting the needs of my family above mine. And I am happy that I did this. And now, as the door is being opened, offering me freedom, I do not want to return to a life in the cage - as lovely as that cage may be. 

I am in a unique position. I have nothing tying me down. No job. No love. No debt. No cars or home. No pets. No plants. 

How lucky I am? How many men or women at my age can make such a claim? I am not poor,  downtrodden, homeless, helpless or forgotten. I am burning to commit myself to The Work, the expression of the most essential aspect of my being. My mind is still bright. My body is still healthy. And I have more freedom than anyone I know. Life is beautiful!

I want to go out into the world and intoxicate myself with freedom and experience. I want to play guitar on the beach under the Milky Way, meditate beside a fire in the New Mexico desert, hear the Blues played by old men in East Texas Juke Joints, sit in an open-air palapa bar deep in a small Mexican village and get drunk on tequila and write poetry in Spanish, hear the best jazz possible in the world in a club in New York, walk for weeks across Spain having long conversation with God, spend a month in an abandoned village in the mountain writing a book. 

All of these experiences are waiting for me. Calling me. What a fool I would be to turn away from them. 

I am recommitting myself to leaving Bellingham as soon as possible (still most likely March). to throwing myself into the strange mysterious enchanting embrace of the world and seeing what happens. 

Like Odysseus in the Land of the Lotus Eaters, the longer I stay here, the deeper I will fall into the trance, forgetting where I was going and why I was going there... forgetting a lived lived all the way up, as close to God as possible.


October 21, 2014

I have another performance coming up. I took the 1934 film The Black Cat, with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, and added my own subtitles, reinterpreting the story and dialogue of the film to reflect a struggle for the control of Hell on earth between the Devil (Lugosi) and Dr. Faustus (Karloff). The beautiful art deco house that most of the film is set within is Hell. Additionally, I have added "subliminal" images: cartoon wolves, unsettling anomalies, and also clips of traumatic films such as Story of the Knife and Begotten, along with documentary footage from old psychological experiments. I am performing with a friend and excellent local poet, Robert Lashley, who reads like a street preacher full of hellfire. I have included the press release and poster. It should be a reckoning. 


October 20, 2014

Just had a bizarre experience at the Post Office. This guy came up to me and started asking questions about me and wanted to know what I believe in. I thought he was playing me for some religious angle, but he apparently wasn't. Unless there is some kind of long con. But then I thought: I have nothing to con. I own nothing - which is one of the things we talked about. I am un-robable. He was younger and wanted to know how I would advise him to live his life. Weird and oddly enervating.

"People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. 

A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave."

- Elizabeth Gilbert


October 19, 2014

There is the idea that this universe is all a dream.

Perhaps it is God's Dream. Perhaps you are the God. Perhaps I am the God. Perhaps we are sharing in a consensual dream.

From an early age, we have tried to remind ourselves that we are dreaming:

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

What a strange little rhyme for children to sing.

But we know in our deepest core of self this is true.

We understand the danger of dreaming and not awakening, of becoming lost in Maya, the illusion of the Dreaming World.

Long ago, I wrote a story about a woman, Eve, falling into the Dream of Love:

Those aspects of our dream in which we can most fully forget ourselves in, 
and at the same time be reminded of the truth of our deepest self, 
generate a quality in us that is known as love.

We love that which is most fully our self but in which we, as dreamers, are forgotten.

From The Laughing Bone: God is Dreaming, Wake Up!

There is an old story from India about the God, Brahma, who was all alone. Nothing existed but Brahma, and he was completely bored. Brahma decided to play a game, but there was no one to play with. So he created a beautiful goddess, Maya, just for the purpose of having fun. Once Maya existed and Brahma told her the purpose of her existence, she said, "Okay, let's play the most wonderful game, but you have to do what I tell you to do." Brahma agreed, and following Maya's instructions, he created the sun and the stars, the moon and the planets. Then he created life on earth, the animals, the oceans, the atmosphere, everything.

Maya said, "How beautiful is this world of illusion you created. Now I want you to create a kind of animal that is so intelligent and aware that it can appreciate your creation." Finally Brahma created humans, and after he finished the creation, he asked Maya when the game was going to start."

We will start right now," she said. She took Brahma and cut him into thousands of teeny, tiny pieces. She put a piece into every human and said, "Now the game begins! I am going to make you forget what you are, and you are going to try and find yourself!" Maya created the Dream, and still, even today, Brahma is trying to remember who he is. Brahma is there inside you, and Maya is stopping you from remembering who you are.

Why I am telling you these things? 

Because I remember you, that being inside your eyeholes, this You that remains as your name and your face change. 

And I know as certainly as I know myself, that we are involved in each other's lives to remind ourselves that this transient world is an illusion, that we are dreaming, that we need to wake up. 

This is the Great Love and the Great Sacrifice we hold between us. 

I have written this before:

A vision from long ago: an old man in a fisherman’s shack on the beach. Raised up high on stilts. Bleached out wood. Corrugated tin roof. Behind him, inside on a table: a few bound pages, a pen, some books. Before him: the ocean. No one else is in sight. He sits on the steps, long white hair lifting in the breeze. He is thinking about that moment years and years ago when he told her of this time, this exact moment of understanding, of remembrance, of love. [...]

He returns to the crossroads, to the penitent woman. She is there, beside the stone, sitting inside a circle of smaller stones on the ground.

Time passes. When she looks up, she says to him:

It is all so beautiful.

He replies:

It is all so beautiful.

Saying this with a slight difference in emphasis.

She smiles. Reaches out her hand – though whether to invite him into the circle or to help her out in unclear.

At the moment before he reaches out to her, he remembers all of this happening so many times before – through a thousand lives, a thousand variations – but always this circle that she is within, always this movement of her hand – the ambiguity of the gesture. 

He wonders over the times he has turned away, of all the times he has dissolved within her, of all the times he has pulled her out and into the darkness of his world.

He extends his hand towards hers, fingers extended outwards like a star – she reaches towards him in similar fashion. But for what he sense is the first time, they do not touch.

Time and Time Again: Through all the iterations of this world, the waking and sleeping, the living and dying, the life after life after life, I have known you and we have always been involved with each other's dance, from a distance, from intimate closeness, I am older, you are older, always for one purpose: to remind each other that this world is a dream, and that we should each work towards awakening in every moment until we are free. 

I once dreamed of a woman who sat upon stone carved over with strange marking an symbol. She was dressed in the robes of a penitent. When I approached her in the dream, she pretended not to know me. Then, as I was walking away, she said to me:

Time and time again.

I turned back to face her. But she was gone. All that remained was the stone written over in a hieroglyphic language I could no longer understand.


August 16, 2014

My mother died this morning. Sad but relieved. Her quality of life was very low towards the end. Words are empty vessels to me right now. And I am as hollowed out as I have ever been. I am going under the porch for a little while. 

I am good. Relieved. Lightened. But between the thought and the event, there are archetypal-plate shifting movements in the deep waters of my self, taking time to process.


August 4, 2014

I don't know if any of you have ever read Call It Sleep by Henry Roth, but it is a beautiful book. Concerning the Jewish immigrant experience in New York early 20th century. The first paragraph is pristine: 

"The small white steamer, Peter Stuyvesant, that delivered the immigrants from the stench and throb of the steerage to the stench and throb of New York tenements, rolled slightly on the water beside the stone quay on the lee of the weathered barracks and new brick buildings of Ellis Island. Her skipper was waiting for the last of the officials, laborers and guards to embark upon her before he cast off and started for Manhattan. Since this was Saturday afternoon and this was the last trip she would make for the week-end, those left behind might have to stay over till Monday. Her whistle bellowed its hoarse warning. A few figures in overalls sauntered from the high doors of the immigration quarters  and down the grey pavement  that led to the dock."

Synecdoche for the entire novel. The ship itself. The place in between. The not yet there. The waiting. The immigrants, the main character of the novel, gestating within, awaiting birth on the shore. New World. Beautiful.

The novel was a moderate success in 1934. Then was re-issued in 1964 to great acclaim. But nothing had been heard from Roth for over 50 years. Many said it was writer's block. But when Roth re-emerged with a final book not long before he died, it came to light that he had been haunted by an incestuous relationship with his sister. It shaped, warped, his life like a hidden planet. This internal portrait of Dorian Grey that he carried around in his soul.

I recently read an essay on Roth with this paragraph:

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/books/180662/henry-roth-quartet

Henry Roth Slept With His Sister and His Cousin By Adam Kirsch

“Ira’s incest becomes the magnetic core of his personality, drawing to itself every kind of crime and debacle. Like Saint Augustine stealing pears, Ira commits sin after sin, as if to demonstrate his incorrigibility. One of the things Roth writes about best are Ira’s jobs, the various kinds of work he did in 1920s New York: selling soda at the Polo Grounds, delivering fancy food-baskets to rich people’s houses, greasing the axles of subway trains. But again and again, Ira ends up unable to avoid stealing from his bosses, just as he can’t stop himself from stealing the fountain pen at Stuyvesant High. Once you have violated the incest taboo, what do other taboos matter? Once you have ruined your soul, why not ruin your life?”

For far different reasons, I know the argument of this sentence like my own blood. I used to think of it in terms of the joke about would you do X for $10? How about $1,000,000. If yes, then the argument is about money, not principle. Then in for a penny, in for a pound. The road of excess lead the the palace of wisdom. If a fool persists in his folly, he will become wise. And so on.

The gift of a sharp mind can rationalize anything. Absolutely anything. Quoting chapter and verse along the way. My soul ruining itself over and over. 

But then, like so many, my life was sold out by false promise and illusion and became an empty dead thing. To chase the dragon was to go nowhere. The road to ruin became just as - more - mundane and boring than the main highway I turned off of long ago. And more importantly, it either led in a narrowing circle or a serious of increasingly dead-ends. 

When I fortunately found my way out of ruination, I had a deep sense that I didn't belong on the main highway anymore, didn't deserve it. I felt I should be punished, placed in prison, forced to wear a scarlet interrobang on my chest. And I was more than lucky. My life since moving away from Austin has been graced by so many opportunities and offers. Bellingham has been so good to me. Still is. 

I am the luckiest man I have ever met. 

But I still felt deep down that I had a great debt to pay. 

And now I know this. The witnessing and the care of my parents as they slowly loose their minds is my burden, my weight, my albatross. And I don't begrudge it. I try to not to complain about it. Of course, if I had known how it was going to play out, I would have gladly chosen being raped every hour in prison instead of my parents having to suffer. Quickly: I don't believe myself at fault for their situation. But if I could've traded, I would've in a heartbeat. But this is my dark seam of karma or fate (or whatever inadequate word) that I have to work. And I am all right. I can live through it. I know. 

I also know an answer that I did not know before to the question above: Once you have ruined your soul, why not ruin your life?

It is in a dying man's last whisper and the scream of a new born, the strangest, most difficult word I know: hope.

I leave to Emily:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.


2010


January 12, 2010

My Mother and Jerry are coming in to Bellingham. Mom's going to go get her "hair done" in Lynden. Jerry and I might go to the museum in town.

Wrote for a long time yesterday. Finally, figured out the interior architecture for the B. Jones Biography. Made me happy.

Woke up this morning around 4 am, wrote this

Also made me happy. I don't know how many of those moments I let go of
in the past. Something I refuse to let occur now.



2009


December 18, 2009

I am ok. In Bellingham. 

I suppose on the verge of going into a mental facility.

Things were very bad for me before I left. I didn't do what I
said. I am sorry. 

I should have some sort of job soon. 

I didn't move anything out of the trailer. Jennifer, Jim and Myra have
been moving my stuff out - throwing a lot of it away. I don't know.

I fell every single night for 5 days before I left. An hour before I
got on the plane.

I am waiting to talk to some counselors after they get back from the
xmas break. I am seeking help.

Being clean up here and
away from Austin, I look back and see what a monster that I
was. I am in bad shape but am taking steps to make myself better.



November 11, 2009

scot

shannon tells me you are going up there after the first of the year.
that's good news. she also says you say you are doing better
i wonder how. if you are doing crack/meth at all i cant imagine
how much improvement is possible.
a friend said something so fucking cynical, "do you know how to tell if
a drug addict is lying? their mouth is moving."

i know it's not a priority to stay in touch with me and i have certainly
never wanted our correspondence to be an obligation, but my intuition
tells me that if you were really better i would hear it from you in a call
or a real letter.

my reaction is not delayed it. has been continuous since we saw you.
kassia can attest i have been wringing my hands over your safety ever since august.
it's only because of facebook that i was able to track down shannon recently.
the weeks following i tried to contact your father in padre island and was
eventually told he had died. i was very sad to learn this and wished i had met him.
 what part might hs renewed and complicated absence
have in your abusing yourself and bartering your gift for destruction?

you probably think i am being a huge pain in the neck right now but
believe me i am certain i am fighting for you, armed by our symbiotic
history.

think back on your pilgrimage to compostella or any of your trips abroad
to morrocco or...was it scotland? you see austin from there. you recognize
not only home but the outter contours of home with a birds eye view.
this can happen from the pacific northwest. the ocean, the air, the change
of physical/spiritual/ecological/psychological environments/habits/constraints.
it's going to effect a positive change and austin will be there when you get back.

at best you have as much time ahead of you as you have behind you (give or take)
40 more years to accomplish your dreams. to read/write/play music.
this time away will be a blip. but if you take it and kick the crutch away this blip
can make the difference between desecration or renaissance.

with much love and respect,
shelton

***

Shelton

I know that you think you are helping by getting involved with my
family, but you are not.

I am doing better than I have been in a long time. All of your
interference is only making things worse by opening wounds that have
already healed.

I am not going up there after the first.

I am not moving away from austin.

Shelton, I know you think you are helping, but you do not know my
family. I feel like I am having to relive some of the most painful
times in my life because you are bringing them back to life.

I am far beyond that place that I was in. And the thought of having to
talk endlessly about "my problem" with my family again is dreadful. So
now, because of you, I will not talk to them or call them for a long
time. And I was just getting back to a good place with them.

Again, you do not understand how my family works. You have caused
enough damage, please stop your ignorant meddling and leave them and
me alone.

Think what you will about my motives. The only thing I really care
about is being healthy, happy and working hard.

Come down here and talk to me face to face and see how I live my life
every single day and then you can pass the sort of fucked up
judgements that you have below. Until then, enjoy your glass house.

S

***

ok scot good luck.


November 5, 2009

scot

again i have to write you a hard letter. first and foremost i want you to read this when you are as clear eyed as you can be.

i wish this was in ink on paper but there is no time to waste.

know how deep my respect and love for you runs. do you know? i wonder.

since 1992, 17 years, i have considered you the most insightful thinker in my life.
i have treasured your wisdom, humor and humanity above all others. without you i 
would be in a vastly less enlightened place.

you set a tone and standard for me that i have struggled to meet and keep up with and much of what i've done has been in hopes of your approval.
i've struggled to keep you in my life because in you i recognize the necessity of a life of the mind.

as i said in my august letter, written the day after seeing a deformed version of my hero,
you have entrusted me, through many conversations/letters/chapbooks/poems with the plumb line
which ascended through all of your thoughts- the impetus that brings you to art/philosophy/music
that is the dreamer must not be allowed to die in his dream. no. sometimes he has to be shaken or struck even into waking up. YOU TOLD ME TO TELL YOU TO WAKE UP SCOT.

i want you to wake up from this nightmare. it ends. it seals itself up as you exit without you having to end with it.

it is imperative that you leave austin.

i have reached out and spoken to jennifer. i know you are still using the poison which has enslaved and disgraced you. you are in a cycle; a polarity between infamy and shame and the immediate relief of a quick fix high. you want to redeem yourself thru hard labor but circumstances and debt only allow you to spin a cage like a hamster on a wheel. 

futility produces the appetite for futile solutions so you continue to head to the projects for some escape from futility.

but scot. this is not the end. this is not the final chapter. this is neither the bang nor the whimper.

i have reached out and spoken to your sister. i fear you are going to resent my meddling yet my much greater fear is LOSING SCOT CASEY.

don't you see?

there is an escape from this quagmire that's not an escape; it's a return.
return to the people who truly love you.
all of your initial writing comes from this source, this love, this treehouse beacon in your fertile youth.
in your family. in birth is there not re-birth?
 this love is the answer to your current stasis.

i know for a fact you love shannon. you've told me in actions and in words.

i want you to go her. not for christmas or in the spring. i want you to go now.

you told me you would in september. 

allow your family to pay your debt and go there
right away. you can pay them back, it's completely doable but only if you are straight, focussed and unencumbered by your current burden.

i want you to do more than survive, i want you to prosper and learn from this.
not succeed in the professional connotation but in the sense you previously embraced; living simply.

i love austin as much as you do but trust me brother; austin is the problem. i want you out of there as soon as possible! i will reach out to andrew foote or your mother or pilar or anyone i can team up with to make this happen.

i am dead serious. you have helped me through the worst shit in my life. you have always been there for me.

it's payback time. i'm staging an intervention. i want your ass out of austin and in rehab and i won't rest until something changes.

why?!

because i love you. i know you. you've given all of us with a fraction of your human capacity to look deep into the nature of the world the eyes to see.

the same people you barely communicate with now. we need you. we are worth it.

please go to washington state and get clear. you need help. i've talked to my doctor about you and this drug and he says it literally can't be kicked without help. YOU ARE NOT TOO OLD OR IN ANYWAY BEYOND THERAPY. no one is.
lie to everyone but don't lie to yourself. therapy is a finite process. you understand processes.

everyone benefits from specialized care at some point in their life. yes, you are extraordinary, but the past year shows that your judgement is skewed. you need help. this need does not add to your shame, it addresses, diminishes and dissolves it at the source. you need the love of your family. they need you.
i need you.

meditate on real love for a moment.

please. i ask you again to think back on our conversations at les amis, quacks, countless households, letters and postcards...trust me, i am cradling what i've kept safe of your legacy and soul here, please allow shannon 
to act as custodian to her damaged brother for awhile. please scot. i'm not above begging when the stakes are this high.

i have advised her to pay your debt, fly you to the pacific northwest, schedule out patient therapy, allow you the space to read/write and play music and after a time when you have detoxed and shown clinical improvement send you to christ in the desert before returning back to austin. you need to see these last few years at a literal physical distance thru monastic eyes. you need at least 6 months but as long as 2 years away.

meditate on the idea of true clarity. unpack this idea. peel back the costume and flesh from your current position.

even if you find minimum wage work at a bookstore you can have a real home to find your way back to the life
of the mind you are meant to lead rather than the degradation you are being sucked into.

i am here for you to cuss out or talk to or whatever you need but here.
and if you need me to meet you in washington i will be there.
i need you to sense the anchor of friendship i offer is here to stablize and not bring you down.

please heed my words.
with much love,
shelton



June 20, 2009

From Jerry:

Scot,
 
Just a note to let you know we are thinking about you.
 
Your mom really enjoyed talking with you a few days ago.
 
We are glad you found a new job, particularly one requiring fewer hours.
 
Shan didn't get her traditional summer school job this year; she doesn't know yet what she will do.
 
Your mom and I really miss you. I wish we were nearer so we could talk options face to face and more.
 
We hope everything is working out.



March 22, 2009

RE: Termination

From Shelton:

oh scot,
i gotta tell you, i feel devastated. i've been sick and vulnerable for days.
your story is sinking in and it's weighing heavy on my heart. the futility of not being able to help you when you are in such a bad place is difficult to fathom and bare.
you are not asking for advice i realize and getting out of austin may be impossible on many levels but i sense that leaving and getting work elsewhere might be best. try to get as clear-headed as you can. postpone drinking and drugs until you have in a wider berth of reach, grasp and opportunities. you've been able to discern  stimulus from crutch in the past. the way over/thru this handicap is without the crutch.
you are an artist and a thinker; let art and thought sustain you. indulge in these spiritual values and proliferate
material that you've learned from the engine of indulgence.

last year when i was sleeping in the studio. disgrace made me feel everything; haunted, doomed, in spin cycle but also blessed that i had my little cot amidst my paintings. it hammered the point that while i wanted to believe that i was living my art that i need to have a home where other values were nurtured and sustained.
for months it felt like my head was hung so low that i was only looking at the earth; rock bottom so to speak.
let's face it, we dont want to go or end up there but once we've had time to examine it thoroughly a clearer division develops between the hard soil we're bound to and the other invisible forces less tangible which we need to advance as souls. 

i'll stop for now. 

you are always in my thoughts and i will to help you however i can,
shelton 


March 8, 2009

Long time.

Outwardly, I am doing all right. GM of Little Woodrows on the Drag -
where the Showdown used to be. Working a lot. Moved back into Sam's.

Inwardly, in a difficult place. Ever since I got hit by the car,
things haven't been quite the same. I feel like a monkey trapped
inside a rusted tin man.

A few more days: 48 years.

I feel like I have used up this life.



February 28, 2009

But for me on one day its Anselm Kiefer...

... & you have to crawl across the broken glass to get to the bookshelves.

If I ever get out of this...

blood on broken glass.


January 6, 2009

Medusian transformations. Struggling out of the stone. Michelangelo's
Prisoners trying to speak.

Moved out of Doe and Buster's - back into The Room at Sam's - the
Eternal Return.

Tied to that existential chair in the middle of the Waste Land.
Letting the Birds of Appetite pluck at my flesh in whispers. It will
pass. It will all pass.

I am still here. Will still be here. My skull has been cracked and the
tissue turned to seeds...

Thanks for throwing me the more than occasional bone 


2008


September 27, 2008

I always return to the Nietzschean notion that such pain may not improve us, but it certainly deepens us.
In such a manner, I am entrenched in this war with my nervous system.
Like washing your bowls, god is down there at the most basic, physical level, of addiction.
The raw need for presence and transcendence burns in us all.
It just seems that I have been standing in the fire instead of beside it.
Bugs Bunny asking what is cooking cause it sure smells good.
And then... the pain.
Then, the forgetting.
Back to the fire.
Bugs again: what's cooking? smells good.
Then the pain.
After a while, it loses all meaning and the ritual is just a sad routine.
 
The bones abide. And I remain draped over them like a sheet, like a ghost.


September 21, 2008

It's going a little rough. I wonder at times if I am on the ship that is hunting for Moby Dick or the one that is just sitting in the front of a Vegas Casino as a tourist attraction.


August 13, 2008

Fucked up world right now.
No live music, baby.
Maybe I could swing it for the soft opening.
My girlfriend is pissing me off.
And who says I don't want to get into business with my wife?
I will let JGM productions know what the skinny is as soon as I know it.
Anyway, I am not sure that Hunter et al would want to play Woodrows.

Gotta go see a man about a dog.
One of those kind of nights.

Getting drunk. Thinking too much.
First at the Grand (was Eric's Pool Hall) for a couple of beers and shots.
I go there cause no one knows me. I can drink and think. Alone.
Barflys. Two more shots. 
Tired of people. Know too many people in this town.
Hadji Mart for some Tecate and lime.
Back to the room.
Waiting for the Daily Show. 
Tired of everything.
Tired of all the games.
One thing about us that is different from everyone else: we never played games.
Outside of pick up sticks or Monopoly.

Restless...


August 12, 2008

Things became... difficult for a while. Ontologically difficult.
God's hand loosened the web that dangled me over the Pit.
 
I am better now. But only slightly.
Life as allegory. Drawn to length and breaking.
The opium den awakenings: dreams within dreams.
 
I have been like that rat that rejects everything just to keep triggering the pleasure center.
 
I am sorry that I left you in such a Young Goodman Brown-like manner.


August 8, 2008

Nothing is ever clean with me.
My life seems to be a study in fuzzy equations, endlessly recursive
fractal desires and disappointments.
I am determined always, apparently, to fetishize broken shards.
Totems from the disaster.

The dream was mostly of addictions that got the better of me.
A man in an opium den dreaming his life while he wasted away.


August 6, 2008

It's been hard.
Jennifer and I split up.
I started going out with another woman: Doe.
Has a 12 year old son: Buster.
I am currently in the process of splitting up with her.
One of those world of lies scenarios.

Showdown closed.
Got a job managing a place called Woodrows.
Will open a new location where Showdown was in Oct.
I will be the manager.

Waking up to the wasted flesh.


July 7, 2008

Allegories of Plato's Cave: the pain of moving from the fire in the cave to the sunlight outside.
Dreams from an Opium Den: the last 8 months of my life.


July 4, 2008

Seven feet under the earth.
But not as down in the ground as the words would seem to indicate.
My relationship with Doe and her son Buster is a thing of beauty.
My relationship with myself is similar to that between Ahab and Moby or Job and God.
A beautiful phrase: "coming to terms" drifts into mind.
Bear with me. The laughter of Quixote and Falstaff echo in my skull as much as the agonies of Prometheus, the sorrows of Priapus, the tears of Penelope, the ruminations of Hamlet and the riddle of Kafka.
It is just that upon awakening, the tend to put on the clothes of sorrow before I don my clown suit.


July 2, 2008

Modalities of confession.
The ghost writings from an amputated limb.
Debris floating to the surface of the sea.
Wonderment over what once wrecked down there.
An animal imprisoned inside a robot - all acts cloaked in mechanical gestures.


June 28, 2008

at work at a new bar, little woodrow's. GM.
 
hard times.
words are choking.
everything is broken.

still at work.
no internet at Doe's 
the bones are buried deep.
a long time feel as if I have been living a posthumous existence.
another creature in my shell
my life: a dream in an opium den
 

2006


2005


November 15, 2005



March 1, 2005

Robert Lowell - The Drunken Fisherman

Wallowing in this bloody sty,
I cast for fish that pleased my eye
(Truly Jehovah's bow suspends
No pots of gold to weight its ends);
Only the blood-mouthed rainbow trout
Rose to my bait.  They flopped about
My canvas creel until the moth
Corrupted its unstable cloth.

A calendar to tell the day;
A handkerchief to wave away
The gnats; a couch unstuffed with storm
Pouching a bottle in one arm;
A whiskey bottle full of worms;
And bedroom slacks: are these fit terms
To mete the worm whose molten rage
Boils in the belly of old age?

Once fishing was a rabbit's foot--
O wind blow cold, O wind blow hot,
Let suns stay in or suns step out:
Life danced a jig on the sperm-whale's spout--
The fisher's fluent and obscene
Catches kept his conscience clean.
Children, the raging memory drools
Over the glory of past pools.

Now the hot river, ebbing, hauls
Its bloody waters into holes;
A grain of sand inside my shoe
Mimics the moon that might undo
Man and Creation too; remorse,
Stinking, has puddled up its source;
Here tantrums thrash to a whale's rage.
This is the pot-hole of old age.

Is there no way to cast my hook
Out of this dynamited brook?
The Fisher's sons must cast about
When shallow waters peter out.
I will catch Christ with a greased worm,
And when the Prince of Darkness stalks
My bloodstream to its Stygian term . . .
On water the Man-Fisher walks.

Spent the better part of the morning online, looking for that vital element to add to my blog. Here is the entry for today:

The Doomsday Clock

My earlier post on the Rapture Index brought to mind another, perhaps more accurate, assessment of how nigh The End was becoming: the famous Doomsday Clock from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has informed the world what time it is since 1947, when its now-famous "Doomsday Clock" first appeared of the cover of the magazine. Since then, the minute hand of the clock has moved forward and back to reflect the global level of nuclear danger and the state of international security.

From the first announcement in 1947:

The new cover of the BULLETIN bears the design of a clock, its hands approaching twelve. This symbol of urgency well represents the state of mind of those whose closeness to the development of atomic energy does not permit them to forget that their lives and those of their children, the security of their country and the survival of civilization, all hang in the balance as long as the specter of atomic war has not been exorcised. No wonder their patience wears thin watching the slow progress of negotiations for the international control of atomic energy, on which all their hopes have centered since 1945; no wonder that many begin to take the failure of these negotiations for granted, and that suggestions for changing the program, or at least radically enlarging it, are now voiced even by such men as Urey and Szilard, who from the beginning have been in the forefront of the fight for international control.

 The Doomsday Clock was last moved on February 27, 2002 and currently stands at seven minutes to midnight.

The closest to midnight that the Doomsday Clock has ever been was in 1953 at two minutes to midnight when "the United States and the Soviet Union test thermonuclear devices within nine months of one another."

The furthest from midnight was in 1991 at seventeen minutes to midnight when "the United States and the Soviet Union sign the long-stalled Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and announce further unilateral cuts in tactical and strategic nuclear weapons."

Since the Rapture Index was started , the "record high" was 182 on 24 September 2001 (I note that there were 3 False Christs and that the Mark of the Beast scored a 32 due to "new advancements in microcircuit technology.") And the "record low" was 57 on 12 December 1993 (The site cryptically comments: "in late 1993, just about every indicator either went dormant or had positive news.")

The End is Nigh: The Rapture Index

From the Rapture Ready Website:

The Rapture index is a Dow Jones Industrial Average of end time activity, but I think it would be better if you viewed it as prophetic speedometer. The higher the number, the faster we're moving towards the occurrence of pre-tribulation rapture. 

Rapture Index of 85 and Below: Slow prophetic activity
Rapture Index of 85 to 110: Moderate prophetic activity 
Rapture Index of 110 to 145: Heavy prophetic activity 
Rapture Index above 145: Fasten your seat belts

Current Rapture Index: 153

(via Autonomedia's InfoExchange)

After, read more news. 

Jennifer and I went up to Fry’s Electronics to buy the Mac Mini for the Showdown. They were out so I ended up getting a printer and a wireless hub/router for the San Marcos Showdown. 

We had an early dinner at Curra’s.

Worked an easy shift from 6 to 10. Found out while I was working – from Jimmy and Jan White that Mike was in ICU at Seton. While expected, it was still disturbing. I’ve been meaning to call Mike, etc. stay in touch… Anyway, I am going to go see him tomorrow.

Went down to the Hole, saw Shelly and Rosa. Couldn’t really stand that world, told them I would be right back, went back to the Showdown and called Fred, came home.

Weight: Still around 210 – been eating horribly
Workout: None – sore from intense aerobics yesterday
Health: feel very good, strong, even with bad diet 
Drugs/Drink: Beer, some gin, cocaine
Reading: On Intelligence, Carter Beats the Devil
Work: 6 to 10
Savings: 195.00 spending too much 
Creation: No writing / No drawing / No guitar
Mood: up 
Music: More Overseer
DVDs: Vanity Fair, Saw, Motorcycle Diaries
8 March 2005 – Tuesday

1:20 a.m. – strange dreams: How to Kill A Pig. A man with all the blood removed from his body. Looks like the Devil come up and had a little drink of him.

Watching Detour.


January 2005


1 January 2005 - Saturday

I have decided to wage war against the world, to live my life as a warrior. 

Reading books on Samurai ethical code. Bushido. The perfect day.  Framings. 

To live life as a warrior in a time of peace. 

Balance. Harmony. Grace.

The Purity of the Desert. (The One Thing)
The Simplicity of the Mountain. (That Which Is)
The Grace of the Ocean. (Being Given What Is – For Given)

Elegance = the balance of beauty and power.

To become powerful and cultivate beauty.

Reading Clavell’s King Rat – something about prison novels always attracts. Also beginning Bowden’s Blues for Cannibals – style unfettered by grammar, by the god that haunts it.

Being drawn to Lear. And Lorca. And Dante. And Steiner. 


And You, deep shrinking in the gloom,
     What find you in that filmy gaze?
What menace of a tragic doom?
     What dark, condemning yesterdays?
What urge to crime, what evil done?
     What cold, confronting shape of fear?
O haggard, haunted, hidden One
     What see you in the dying year?

R. Service

I refuse to surrender this year. 

And, like every year, we shall see how strong my resolve has become.

Weight: 207
Workout: 45 min. arms – mostly 12/10/8
Health: sick with a slight cold  
Reading Clavell 
Work: 10 pm to 3 am at the Showdown 
Savings: $20.00
Creation: No writing / No drawing / No guitar
Mood: Withdrawn
Music: Winter’s Night – Sara McLaughlin
Rented DVDs: Garden State, Napoleon Dynamite, Shaun of the Dead, Open Water
Porn: **


2 January 2005 - Sunday

Worked all day today at the Showdown. Biking to work in the rain. Slow: post New Year’s, post Rose Bowl. Ordered pizza and salad, ate all but two pieces. Making myself pay for it now. LH gave me two lines of coke. Threw me off balance, as it always does.

Weight: 209
Workout: None
Health: Slightly sick with fevered sleeping 
Drugs: 2 lines of coke 
Reading Clavell and Crichton’s State of Fear
Work: Day at the Showdown 11 – 5:30
Savings: $40.00
Creation: No writing / No drawing 
Guitar: worked on a recording of The Verve’s The Drugs Don’t Work
Mood: Static
Music: The Drugs Don’t Work by The Verve
DVDs: Still haven’t watched any
Porn: ****


4 January 2005 - Tuesday

5:43 am –  From the 3rd - Monday
Weight: 208 – Goal by Sunday: 205
Workout: 7:30 pm – 1 hr - Upper Body – 12/10/8 light/ light aerobics – Rt shoulder feeling much better. Vascularity increasing. Rt calf starting to cramp again during jump rope.
Health: Almost full recovery
Drugs: 6 pints Bud Light, 1 shot Don Julio Tequila
Solar: 10 mintues @ 7 pm
Reading Hakim Bey’s Immediatism, Clavell’s King Rat, finished State of Fear
Work: Day at the Showdown 9:15 to 6:15
Savings: $50.00
Paycheck: $271.00 not cashed
Creation: No writing / No drawing 
Guitar: None
Mood: Strung-out: only slept 2 hours. Read all night.
Music: Slayed by Overseer
DVDs: Still haven’t watched any
Porn: *

Woke up late (at 9 am), rainy, cab to work. Arrived at 9:15. Off balance. Using rituals to re-cover. Waxed brick floors. Good, but slow, day. Red Bull and Power Plus Bar for Breakfast. Two slices of leftover pizza.

After work, tanned for 10 minutes, went to Hyde Park Gym, back to Showdown. Drank at bar with Mo (who was very drunk), talking to Sam, Mike McCoy and Francis, until Jennifer came in around 10:15. Biked home. Ate couple of slices of Laughing Cow. Few bowls of Corn Flakes with Enhanced Soy, Banana and Sweet n Low. Slept from 12 to 5 am. 

7:48 am – Finished a new stamp postcard: 


"Ich fürchte, wir werden  Gott nicht los, weil wir noch an die Grammatik glauben"

I fear we will never be rid of God as long as we still believe in Grammar.

Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung


Will be mailed out to 99 people. Printed fronts.

2:47 pm – Finished fake mail piece, “Guaranteed!” Printed half,
Had some Corn Flakes, banana and soy milk. Bag of M&Ms. 
Watched some of “Open Water”
Recorded some music with GarageBand: “No Blood Running”
Called Keri and had her work for me tonight 6 to 10
Watched Garden State


7 January 2005 - Friday

Tuesday Notes: Got Keri to work for me. Went to gym at 9 pm. Leg workout. Biked to Showdown. Drank with Keri and Matt for a while. They left. Went to Hole. Came back and talked to Jennifer for a while. Left around 12 am. Biked home. Stopped by HEB. Watched Shaun of the Dead.

Wednesday Notes:

Biked to gym. Arm workout for 1 hour. Worked 10 to 6. Keri and Matt took me and Simon out to El Chile for dinner. Keri, Matt and I went to Barfly’s for a drink. Home at 11:30. Asleep by 12. 

Thursday Notes:

Woke up at 4:30 am. Read. Web. King Rat. 3rd Degree. Watched rest of Open Water. Felt a little sick again. Slept from 2 pm to 11:30 pm. Returned DVDs. Rented more. Stopped by HEB. Slept from 3 am to 8am. 
Friday Notes 6:30 pm:

Weight: 208 – Goal by Sunday: 205
Workout: 8:00 am – 2 hrs – Aerobics: 25 minutes on stair stepper/ 5 minutes jump rope. Upper Body – 12/10/8/6 medium
Health: Recovered
Drugs: None
Solar: 15 minutes @ 9 am
Reading: finished Patterson’s 3rd Degree – reading Wharton’s Age of Innocence and Clavell’s Tai-Pan
Work: Night 10 pm to 3 am
Savings: 0.00 (had to pay swami at showdown) – 50.00
Paycheck: None
Creation: No writing / No drawing 
Guitar: None
Mood: Rested and mindful
Music: Under an Orange Sky
DVDs: Rented Troy, The Black Book, Anchorman and Two Brothers. Watched Troy last night.

Trying to cultivate warrior values. Trying to be quiet. Trying to maintain arête. 


10 January 10, 2005 – Monday - 2:47 am

Saturday Notes: Sleep patterns are all over the place. Good Work-out from 11:30 to 1:00 pm – legs 12/10/8/6 – good aerobics 15 minutes stepper / 5 minutes jumprope.

Lunch at Hyde Park Bar & Grill: burger and fries. Hungry for meat.

Slept from 5 to 9:30 pm. Worked from 10 to 3:30 am. Biked over to Jennifer’s. Had a few pieces of pizza and a couple of glasses of wine. Biked home. Slept from 5:00 to 9:00 am.

Sunday Notes: Read online for a while. Biked to gym 11:30 am. Low energy. 

Weight: 210 – Revised goal for 1/16: 205
Workout: 12:30 pm – Upper Body – Light work-out – low energy 12/10/8 trying to concentrate on form
Health: Full recovery
Drugs: None
Solar: 15 minutes @ 2pm
Reading:  Wharton’s Age of Innocence and Clavell’s Tai-Pan and Malamud’s The Natural
Work: None
Savings: 20.00 starting over
Creation:  No drawing
Writing: Completed and printed 3 copies of The Book of Memory: What I Cannot Forget -  a personal project of poems that I have memorized or am working on memorizing


Guitar: None
Mood: Irritable and low-energy
Music: Zombie
DVDs: Watched Anchorman and The Black Book – Rented Easy Riders & Raging Bulls, Zaitochi & Sonatine from The Movie Store – Watched part of Zaitochi.

Started taking protein and creatine again. Last time, it gave me such a boost that I am interested to see what the effect will be. Am going to cut the carbs way down. Need to up my aerobics to bring my weight down. Difficult with the sorry weather since I can’t bike around as much. 

Seems like I am sleeping a lot. 3 hours here and there. 

Warrior Maxims 1.0
Do not talk about other people’s problems. 
Honor your family and friends.
Honor your employer.
Never do anything half-way.
Be as silent as possible.
Speak only when spoken to.
Never lose your temper.
Stand by your words.
Consider the truth of everything you say.
Do not exaggerate for trivial effect.
Never lose yourself in drink or drugs.
Moderation in everything. (“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”)
Practice your rituals.
Keep your heart hidden.
Do not concern yourself with what other’s think of you.
Strive for purity.
Practice simplicity.
Maintain constant vigilance.
In all things: balance; harmony.

7:44 am

Downloaded a bunch of images for postcards and “Chimage” – all located in the Chimage File. 

Don’t quite know what to make of it all. But something about memory and desire, forgiving and forgetting… Chris Marker and Francis Yates. About trying to remember something that has been forgotten. Coleridge and the Man from Porlock… opium dreams… some kind of dynamic interaction between the images… France and Japan… rather: Old EuroFashion and New Asian Fashion. More later.


Tuesday - January 11, 2005 – 8:43 pm

Slept from 6 pm yesterday to 2 am. 
Worked on thankyou cards for M&J, Shan & Jennifer. Mailed today.

Photo-manipulation of Deception Pass

Weight: 208 – Goal by Sunday: 205 - 3 lbs. Within reach.
Workout: 8:30 am – 1.5 hrs – Lower Body – 12/10/8/6 heavier – Good workout: stronger on squat and leg press – light aerobics – Getting stronger - Back on the protein and creatine – can already tell a difference – am moving aerobics to end of workouts – fresh blood to muscles.
Health: Recovered
Drugs: None
Solar: 15 minutes @ 9:30 am
Reading: Malamud’s The Natural
Work: Went down this morning, stopped by HEB for groceries. Was supposed to go in from 6 to 10 pm – arranged to have Travis go in for me.
Savings: 20.00
Paycheck: None
Creation: No writing / No drawing 
Guitar: recording of Here Comes the Sun Again; wrote two new songs “Bonelessness” and “Goddamn Godskull”
Mood: High Energy
Music: El Talisman
DVDs: Rented and watched “The Village” ***

Lunch @ Trudy’s around 10:30 am – Chicken Caesar Salad and Tortillas.
Stopped at FlightPath for double latte.
Worked on the website for ChemPro. 
Left crazy birthday message for Bishop Williams
Dinner of turkey sandwich.
Watched “The Village”
“Bonelessness”

Am G

Hey, is it you?
Did you lose those bones
God gave to you?
Don’t you know
He ain’t gonna give you any more?

F E

CH:  You took a dive
You waste my time
You say we’re fine
But I can’t stand your bonelessness no more

And hey, listen here:
Your bag of skin
Is filling up with tears.
Can’t you tell?
You don’t look like you’re feeling very well.

CH:

And hey, whatcha know?
Looks like you done sold off
All your bones.
So sad
Cause God ain’t gonna give you anymore.

CH:



22 Saturday 2005 - 1:45 pm -

I worked on Sunday the 16th from 11 to 7 pm. It was a good day. After work, I walked down to the Hole in the Wall to have some drinks. I drank a lot. I don’t remember much. Tequila shots and cocaine. Buying rounds. Up the Showdown, back to the Hole. Around 1:00 am I left the Showdown on my bike. Somewhere between there and my house, I believe that God knocked me down hard on the pavement. Repeatedly. Slamming my head into the concrete over and over. Only by a supreme effort of will did I manage to make it home, bloody and torn up. 

What I think about now was how similar it was to my most recent experience at the Monastery, to that early morning when I was lost on the dark road in the rain. The sense of being absolutely forlorn, abandoned and in real danger of losing my life. 

I have spent the last week recovering from my injuries. My eyes were almost entirely swollen shut by Tuesday. On Wednesday, I began to feel slightly better. My face is still bruised and swollen. My right shoulder was probably fractured, but seems to be healing. However, there is a deeper psychological wound that runs deep. I fear that my “accident” may have brought on some permanent changes in my personality.

I managed to make it to Hyde Park Gym on Wednesday for some light aerobics, stretching and range of movement exercises. Tanned for 12 minutes. Rode my bike down to the Showdown for a few beers. 

That exhausted me for the entirety of the next day. I have been sleeping for 12 to 14 hours a day. Watching movies, reading cheap paperbacks. 

Jennifer has been taking care of me. Taking me to breakfast. Working my shifts. 

The morning after, I somehow woke up to an alarm that I had somehow set for 9:00 am. Face covered in blood. Confused. Amnesiac. Found my bike in the neighbor’s yard. Took a cab to work. Tried to get through the opening and did. But sat there crying at the counter, wondering how I was going to make it though the day. Called Sam and Keri. Sam said she would come in. Called Jennifer. She came in immediately. I haven’t worked since. Will probably go in this Monday.

Never went to the Doctor or hospital. Couldn’t afford it. Taking a week off work was a whole lot cheaper.

Went with Jennifer today to eat a Mexican breakfast at Elsie’s. Then to the Apple Store at Barton Creek where she bought a new iBook. 

Tired. Going to watch some of Wicker Park – some piece of fluff to get my mind off the pain.

More later.


25 January 2005 – Tueday 2:10 am

Sleep schedule is all turned around from sleeping all the time while I was hurt.

Weight: 210 – 205 by next Sunday
Workout: Upper Body – very light b/c of shoulder separation. 30 min of trotter. Combined upper and arms b/c of light weights for the next 5 weeks/ until shoulder is healed.
Health: recovering from accident 
Drugs/Drink: 4 pints of beer at Showdown post w/o
Reading: Rule of the Four and Lessons of the Masters
Work: none
Savings: none – wiped out from accident and not working all of last week
Creation: No writing / No drawing / No guitar
Mood: feel good again – happy that I wasn’t hurt worse
Music: Slayed - Overseer
DVDs: Butterly Effect, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, The Twilight Samurai


26 January 2005 – Wednesday – 7:00 am

For Tuesday: 

Weight: 210
Workout: None
Health: sore from Monday’s workout 
Drugs: 3 bottles of beer, 1 shot of tequila, 1 margarite 
Reading: Rule of the Four
Work: Evening 6 to 10
Savings: 0.00
Creation: No writing / No drawing / No guitar
Mood: steady
Music: Over the Rainbow – W. Traggert
DVDs: Watched AVP

Didn’t sleep much. Watched AVP. Worked on the ChemPro Website. Ate too much at Trudy’s last night + ice cream from HEB.


27 January 2005 – Thursday – 10:26 am

Worked yesterday for about 12 hours. Couple of drinks at Hole with JGM. Biked home. Asleep at 12:30 am. Up at 4:30 am. Created Days Go By card for SW, PW, JGM, SLC. Letter to NLT. 

DAYS GO BY LIKE WILD HORSES - NEVER ENOUGH TIME - NEVER ENOUGH -TO DO WHAT? WHAT IS IT THAT REQUIRES SO MUCH TIME? THEN, SITTING ON THE BACK PORCH PLAYING GUITAR WITH ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD. THE TIME OF THE SONG BEING SOMEHOW OUTSIDE OF TIME. THE SUN SETTING. THE AUSTIN STARS THROUGH THE BARE BRANCHES OF THE TREES. I THINK I’LL PAINT A MURAL ON THE BARE WALLS OF THE GARAGE. SOMETHING NO ONE WILL EVER SEE. OR BUILD A CATHEDRAL OF TWIGS IN THE LEAVES, “SPENDING” ALL MY TIME WITH FUCK BUG WORSHIPERS, THUNDERING ABOVE THEM: “CAN’T YOU FUCKERS SEE THAT I AM BUILDING YOU A GODDAMN CATHEDRAL! NOW GET IN LINE. REPENT INSECTS!” AND THEN DELIVERING THE FIERY SERMON AMONGST THE TWIGS WHERE, AT THE HEIGHT OF MY ARGUMENT, CRUSHING THE CATHEDRAL AND DESTROYING THOSE THAT HAVE GATHERED WITHIN, WAILING WITH THE TERRIBLE VOICE OF THE LORD: “YOUR SUFFERING IS A POEM TO ME. AND WHAT YOU CALL THINKING IS JUST LAUGHTER. I AM THE LORD, YOUR GOD!” AND STOMP AROUND THE BACK YARD IN A STORM OF LEAVES AND STICKS. YES, THERE IS TIME FOR THIS. THERE IS PLENTY OF TIME FOR THIS. AND LATER, COOL AGAIN UNDER THE STARS, SINGING QUIETLY TO THE  WRECKED AND WRETCHED FAITHFUL ABOUT GOD’S SKULL AND GOD’S BONES. AH YOU SHOULD’VE SEEN IT... THE BONES OF AN ENORMOUS BEAST OUT THERE IN THE DESERT. CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT ONCE WAS? WHEN THERE WAS A CENTER? WHEN THE SPARROW AND THE STAR BOTH FELL UNDER CONSTANT GAZE? WE CAN NOT EVEN IMAGINE SUCH A TIME. OUR DAYS: JUST SAD BEASTS STANDING IN THE SUN.

Here we are then, just you and I trembling above the Abyss in our tiny boat of belief. You are drowsy, tired of paying attention. The Scream is fading to silence. Your imagination wanders like a line in the water. I know you want me to help you. I know you don't want to fall back into the make-believe dream. You want me to tell you not merely how to wake up, but how to remain awake. But you are falling with every instant. Falling even now. All I can do here is to pull up the anchor, to allow you to think for yourself, to give you a brief sense of freedom from the fiction that you have been cultivated within. All I can do is to wait here with you until you see your self, perhaps from a distance, laughing with the awareness of how goddamned difficult it is to escape God. Like an infection, once you've been sick with it, it will forever be a part of you. And at the moment where your imagination catches hold of this thought just beyond the language, I'll be right there to help you reel it in to the boat. Or, if it takes you off guard at first, I'll help you keep your line straight, not play it out too fast or too slow, show you how to keep it in the water and not up in the tree.

Absence of Memory and Book 

Been spending time in Khara-Khorum (The Place Whereof We Should Not Speak) lately. No internet. No posts. Got back 10 days ago. Bit of a culture shock - like getting hit by a car in the middle of the night, waking up the next morning to a face covered in blood and no memory. But, you know, the Bone moves in mysterious ways. Something in the presence of absence: what was once here, informing the shape of the world/flesh from within. Now withdrawn... there is no welcome "home".





The Camino de Santiago
(Descending Chronology)



May 10, 2003

Home. Worked last night. Awkward. Felt like my soul wasn't quite reeled in from London yet, parts perhaps still clinging to Spain. 

It's all easy, but still so awkward. Feel like an albatross trying to serve beer. The big wings of
travel are just getting in the way. Haven't learned how to pull them back in yet. 

No capacity for banter, to summarize the intensities of where I traveled and what happened to me there in the 30 seconds of time between pouring a beer and taking money. 

And all the bantering phrases not only turn the experience into a banality; they also begin to chip away at the actual core of what it is to me. I almost want to have some pat lie that will serve as a kind of shield against the truth of the real and profound experience.

"Yeah, I just hung out on the beaches of Ibiza and smoked hash the whole time. Worked on my sun tan. It was really cool."

Of course, it is all the same here. Small lives in a small world feasting upon the most meager scraps of gossip behind each other's backs.  Not that I have ever really been a part of it, but I have been complicit merely by hearing it all out. Now, I refuse to even suffer this complicity.

I realize that most people have little or no desire to understand the profound experiences of
another. And this is good, no problem for me. But the initial superficial curiosity caught me a little off gaurd.

A guy comes up to ask about the pilgrimage and I find I am off on an explanation of those precise moments out there in Northern Spain where language reached a limit and how, at those liminal points of being, you know it down to your bones, that you are approaching
what can only be broadly termed Source - as in the Zen Ox Herding sequence. But, of course, the Source is preceded by the Void. A fundamental emptiness is prerequisite to, not recovering, but uncovering this liminal, and necessarily profound, experience of being. 

When I was in the Cathedral of Leon on Easter, I was broken by this Emptiness. The entire Cathedral seemed like the most sublime Vagina I had ever seen - but with the Cock of God long withdrawn, leaving me with the impression of the skeleton of a Divine Vagina - like an enormous ribcage of a long extinct beast stumbled upon in the Desert...

And this guy, and everyone within earshot, simply waiting for their next beer, are all looking at me, wondering what the hell I was talking about. And the guy just says something about yeah, we'll have to sit down some time and you can fill me in. Right. But it might take a long time to fill your empty soul.

It would be funny if it weren't so sad. I must hold on to what I un-covered  (as opposed to "re-covered" - which has never made sense to me) upon the Camino. And this holding on, this binding to the mast, is crucial.

The ligaments of my re-ligion are intensely private binding rituals, occurring in the very core of being, only obliquely accessed via language, and even then in the most hallowed poetic terms. 

I am haunted by Kafka's comment that it is not the singing of the Sirens that is most terrible; it is their silence. 

I refuse to fall into the enchantments of the horrible silence of the everyday again. I refuse to empty out my soul in teaspoons in every Prufrockian conversation.


May 6, 2003

In London now. Luxury room at the Copthorne Tara.

Spent the beautiful day (as far as anyone is willing to buy one), walking from Victoria to Buckingham and up the Birdcage Walk through a blooming and flower filled St. James
Park to Trafalgar, saw a bunch of palace guards working the black fuzzy hat tricks. Then I went roaming around Charing Cross Road bookshops, seeing about 100 books that I can't afford to buy, then over to the British Museum. 

I  haven't been there since they have redone it. Stunning. Before it was one of the best museums I'd ever experienced. Now it is the best - hands down. The memory theater for the Western World.

Been trying to resist the urge to pop into every pub I see (money is tight  and London is a very expensive city to drink in). But I will surrender this evening and head out for a few. 

London drink: Extra Smooth, of course. Also, philosophically, enjoy Kronenberg 1776. 

I got into Madrid just post-coital popeus. Everyone was out sinning and I did get caught up in that. Spent so much money on booze that I just barely could afford to leave town. Thought I might have to start busking on the street with my "Sketches of Spain" or, worse, impressions of Cagney, Bogart, Stewart, Wayne, Stallone and Boo Boo Bear in a round table discussion
on the Ontological Presence that Haunts Grammar - not really a street corner kind of dialogue - but it played well to the cows.

The Elgin Marbles. Gave Keats a hard-on. But they were, with no question, wrongly expatriated from Greece. Mostly on the typically British imperialistic guise that the "primitive" Greeks just don't know how to take care of their own national heritage as well as we do. They should go back. Still, I love the British Museum. Lots of mummies there for me to look at and
think about unwrapping.

The TV in the room is the worst distraction. Watched Raging Bull last night. But this morning got caught up in all the insane British morning shows. "I say, got a bit of a tiddly out on the Yaw, sir! Bloody frak informs us that is a quite yipper on the Thames." Couldn't pull myself away. Well, for about 5 minutes.


May 5, 2003

Just got into London. 

Drank too much in Madrid last night. Those Spanish just don't know when to stop. 

Ended up with just enough money to get the metro to the airport in Madrid, take the train from Gatwick into London and the tube to the hotel. Got a swank place. Copthorne Tara. 

Jennifer got it on Priceline for about 20 US or something. We were supposed to celebrate our
anniversary in style. But she split, so now I guess I gotta go find some London tart to "chat up" "get sloshed" and "shag". 

Maybe I'll search for a women and pay here to talk to me about Vergil and the origin of greek tragic drama. 

But you know, the way I look right now I think I had my best chance for romance with that cow. 

Got more money now. So tonight, a few pints at a pub around here, Kensington / Earl's Court. Would love to find a kebab stand. And an English newspaper. Tired of reading the shitty foreign "english" papers or slowly reading the Spanish ones. And the new book by William
Gibson and new fiction collection by Steiner. And... and... and... 

British Museum and Libary tomorrow, Charing Cross road to look for some books, Foyles, then Soho probably to celebrate my last night in the Old World.

Fly out on Wed. Stay the night in Houston. Fly into Austin on Thurs. afternoon. Work Friday at the Showdown. Yee Hawww. Get right back in the saddle.


May 2, 2003

I am here. Santiago de Compostela. Got my Compostellae in hand saying that I am Saint Scotus Cassius de Boneus in Latin. 

Raining hard all night and this morning in Palas de Rei. Was trying to see  about waiting it out another day. Found out that the bus I need to take for Madrid leaves from Santiago at 11:00 in the am everyday.

So that meant that I would have missed it if I came in on Sunday or busted  my busted ass to make it in be Saturday night in the rain. I'd already gone far enough to get my wings, so I said, screw it and hopped the next bus to Santiago.

Good that I did. The Camino stayed pretty much all along the highway in this part and wasn't very attractive. Coming into Santiago it had to go through ugly edge of the city mess. I just laid  back and watched the world go by. 

I was't even going to bother with getting the Compostella - which means the Church has certified that you have walked enough to talk like a superstar and call everyone a pilgrim, but I was at the Cathedral and saw this priest sitting in a dark booth. I told him that I was a Pilgrim and asked him if he knew where I might go. He seemed all of a sudden to wake up when I told him this. Then he got up out of his booth: he was clothed entirely in a long ethereal white robe. He had a white beard and white hair. He took my arm and led me through the masses, who parted like the Red Sea as he came towards them (I promise I'm not making this up) with his right hand raised up like Moses parting the Red Sea. Took me outside and pointed to the door and told me to "Go there, my son."

I felt like God had just ordered me on - seriously. So I went. 

I had seen on a TV in a bar last night that there were lines around the block to get the Compostella. But because God had shown me the way, everyone had been vaporized or sent to Hell so that I could walk straight up with no wait, give the woman my "credentials", have her check all the stamps out, give me my final stamp, look my name up in the Latin Book of Names, and then give me my piece of sky pie that, as I said, made me a Saint. Or maybe I missed something in the translation. 

Found a great little room of my own - no more Refugios for St. Cassius de Boneius - for only 15 euros a night. Now I have a fulls day to enjoy Santiago tomorrow and leave early Sunday for Madrid. 

All is good. I'm going back to talk to God some more.



April 29, 2003

My sister's birthday. 

In a small town called Sarria, thinking of you. I had a craving - really the first of this trip - to have a big ole American style pizza. Walked all over town and finally found a small place. Pizza with anchovies, sardines, uncured ham, just with tomatoes. Nope. Told them that I wanted on with well done crust, lots of cheese, pepperonis and mushrooms. Well, they tried.
Ended up with a kind of chorizo sausage piece of soggy dough with blue cheese. I know better. But I just had that craving, you know. When in Spain, eat as the Spanish do. 

I've mostly been eating the pilgrim's menu - which is an excellent Gallego soup, pork chops, fried eggs and fries, with a bottle of house wine - usually unlabeled and is "drink as much as you want". Bread and water and a desert. All for about 7 bucks. 

Been raining. Doesn't bother me much. Now that my body has gotten into shape, it's just a beast, my donkey (I call it Donkey Jote... ), that carries my mind around while it thinks and looks at the scenery. A beauty here that I am at a loss to describe. 

Have about 5 more days of walking before I get to Compostela, then Madrid, then London for two days, then Houston, for one night, then Austin on the 8th of May.

Jennifer has been back about a week. 

For me, I sense that large masses of my self have shifted. I cannot return to the same place I was in when I left - spiritually - because I was dying in that place. Nothing will ever be the same.

***

Up in the mountains of Northern Spain, just came down from the last big range, out of the shadow of the mountains all day.

Singing my crazy songs, This morning, I was singing a song and walked by a cow that mooed at me. I mooed back. The cow almost jumped over the wall. It was love at first moo. I mooed for her all the way over the hill and could hear her lovesick moos calling after me. The most romance I've had on the entire camino.

Have discarded most of the books that brought me here. One however that I have read three times and treat as sacred scripture is Grammars of Creation by George Steiner. These two passages are what I am "at". I feel these words in my blood, shaking through my bones. 

"We create or come close to creation and we die in ontological isolation, in 'soledad'. This term, associated with the poetry of Gongora, perfectly concentrates the pertinent values. It implies Latin 'solitudo', from which it  derives. It comports isolation, exile into the waste
places of the self, an apartness from other human presences like that of the anchorite. It
connotes the 'soul's midnight', another baroque precision familiar to the mystic, the metaphysician and the poet. Out of which the birth of the work brings  either light or an even denser darkness. The 'soledad' of the creator, as Gongora has it, is 'confusa'. It is simultaneously an emptiness, a desert of the spirit, and a potential plenitude, pregnant with
shaping impulses. The poet, the thinker are unutterably alone, yet under pressure of crowding
possibilities. At the treshhold of silence with him lies the turbulence of incipiet form, of the will to articulation. Coleridge's Mariner, who can serve as an elucidating model of the voyage towards imperative expression, is alone, alone to the point of madness, on a crowded
sea."

And the summa, the credo:

"Only two experiences enable human beings to participate in the truth-fiction, in the pragmatic metaphor of eternity, of liberation from the eradicating dictates of biological-historical time, which is to say: death. The one way is that of authentic religious beliefs for those open to them. The other is that of the aesthetic. It is the production and reception of
works of art, in the widest sense, which enable us to share in the experience of duration, of time unbounded. Without the arts, the human psyche would stand naked in the face of personal extinction. Wherein would lie the logic of madness and despair. It is (again together with transcendent religious faith and,  often, in a certain relation to it) 'poesis' which
authorizes the unreason of hope.

"In that immensely significant sense, the arts are more indispensable to men and women than even the best of science and technology (innumerable societies have long endured without these). Creativity in the arts and in philosophic proposal is, in respect of the survival of
consciousness, of another order than is invention in the sciences. We are an animal whose
life-breath is that of the spoken, painted, sculpted, sung dreams. There is, there can be, no community on earth, however rudimentary its material means, without music, without some mode of graphic art, without those narratives of imagined remembrance we call myth and poetry. Truth is, indeed, with the equation; but it is a lesser truth."

Land masses shifting within...


April 25, 2003

I'm in Ponferrada. It's raining like a bitch, so I ducked into this cafe and it had internet. Amazing!

Crossed the Foncebadon Pass yesterday - highest point on the Camino. Through ruined villages, paths through purple blooming heather and yellow broom,  down into valleys that stretch into forever and are all mine, up to ridge where I walked shoulder to shoulder with the clouds and then, Nietzsche-like, stepped above them, and then down into lush green valleys
where I ran into a herd of goats - the young ones leaping into the air to see what I was and if I wanted to play with them, the old billys with big bells around their necks that sounded long after I had passed them.

Made up a song and sang it the rest of the way:

Sometimes my baby's hair is like hashed brown potatoes
And her eyes are like two eggs, fried sunny side
And in her mouth is the sweetest piece of bacon
Yes, she's the best hot meal I've ever had

Her ass is like two hot buns of bread
And her sass is like a smoky piece of ham
And she always knows how to cut the mustard
Yes, she's the best hot meal I've ever had

Her mouth is like a big ole bowl of chili
And her words are all a pile of grated cheese
And when she cries, she says it's only the onions
Yes, she's the best hot meal I've ever had

She's always hot and steaming
Straight out of the oven
And she only gives her honey to me

She tells me I can have 
as many course as I need
Well, baby I'm on my knees.

Headed to Villafranca del Bierzo tonight and then up to the mountain village of O Cebriero - which sounds just brainy enough for me. Last mountain range that I??????ll have to cross. My knee is fine except in the steep downhills and then it seems that my thigh bone is writing god's secret name on the inside of my kneecap over and over again. 

Learning the difference between agony and pain. 


April 22, 2003

I am in the North of Spain, getting ready to walk over the mountains. Old Elephant head is riding on top of my pack, roaring away at what a Fool I am. Tired and sore to the fucking core of my bones. Knees giving out under the weight of that fat grey trunked one.

All has been tremendous and I imagine that all shall be even more. 

I may  shake all the water out of the glass as I try to get it back to the god, but I am certain that I will at least have an empty glass at the end. That would be good. It's not a matter of it being half full or half empty, it is just about getting something, anything back to the God. 

Where´s my water? 
Water?
Oh yeah, well, at least I got the glass back. Better than before, huh? Smile.

***

Still in Astorgas, resting before making the climb up to the abandoned village of Foncebadon - where I intend to sing "I´m the King of the Jungle" and dance around like an Orang-u-tang. 

Spending the day sketching Gaudi's neo-gothic Bishop's Palace and some fallen walls and such. 

The Spirit grows stronger each day - as does the Flesh. The Bones, though, they are becoming clear and diamond-like, multifaceted beyond my previous imagining. 

Walking for hours working with the mantra. Breathing it. Not being able to not think it. 

Rereading and carving into my hot pink wet brain the words from Steiner´s Grammars of Creation.



April 21, 2003

Bones aching in all senses of the phrase.

The Bone Carver rides on my back whispering in my ear and singing on the steep hills: I'll be coming in the mountain when she comes!!!

I am pretty much shunned by the other pilgrims because I am the only one by myself and don't talk to anyone other than myself. I may be a little crazy, I think. 

The mountains are ahead and no internet for a while. I am trying to forget everything Scot Casey ever learned, so it's probably good that I can't communicate with anyone.


April 17, 2003

In Madrid on the eve of departure, bittersweet moments for Jennifer and I. Madrid is all blue skies smiling at me, in the Plaza Mayor with the fire jugglers and mandolin players, drinking Cruz Campos. Last night, drunk on a street around Puerto del Sol, stopping in a crowd on a corner to watch a Semana Santa float pass by: Jesus carrying the cross to Ennio Morricone
trumpets and drums, deguello with horse hoof syncopation. Statues staring right through me, white and purple hooded figures carrying it all away. Up late after that, drinking chupitos of tequlia until 4:00 am. Today the Prado: Goya´s "black period", the endlessly fascinating Bosches and, of course, the Velasquez. Tomorrow, Jennifer and I say our goodbyes
and I head north to Leon to start walking.


April 13, 2003

On qn Arqbic keyboqrd where the a is q:

The drone of the cqll to prqyer, down in the labyrinth of the souks, hennq designs of deqth on my fqce, drinking Moroccqn wine on the rooftops with Qllqh qnd the Milky Way, sitting watching the Old Men work the looms, enrqptured, slqughtered lqmbs in plqstic, smoke
from qncient fires, 10,000 yeqr old doors to hqrems; the sweet frqgrqnce of hqsh mixing with the cedqr shqvings, the trqins sing like flutes on the rqils, qt sunset the swifts circle the meqt souk for hours like dervishes, telling my own fortune in the figures of desertion, gqzes vqcqted qnd the Greqt Emptiness from God's withdrawl. Pilgrimqge soon: thunder qnd blood
qnd q ring qround the hqlf moon, venus circling.

Signs qnd portents -

Down on my knees -


April 11, 2003

Here in Asilqh on qn Arqbic keyboqrd. Typicql mqdness in Tqngier. Drinking red wine under the stqrs on the terrqce... ring qround the moon, venus rising, bequtiful. Cqll too prqyer resonqte.



April 10, 2003

Currently in Gibraltar hanging out with the apes. Another Hole in the Wall. An odd out of time fragment of Great Britain. 

Leaving for Tangier in an hour or so.


April 7, 2003

We are staying a second floor room with a balcony that looks out over one of the main roads up to the Alhambra. There are several guitar makers along the cobblestoned way and in the evenings they come out in front of their shops to play. The songs rise up to meet me, breaking my heart with the memory of everything and everyone I have ever loved. 

Wandering around the labyrinths of the Arab neighborhoods, drinking mint tea with hooka smoking anarchists and then up to a bar with candles under the stars to hangout with all of Euro-rats and their postures. Mostly just trying to, as you say, BE. 

Heading to Morocco in a few days: Tangier, Asilah (where Pilar and I stayed) and Fez.

After that Semana Santa in Sevilla, then onto confront the Great Emptiness of GodDevil on the Camino.


April 6, 2003

Here in Granada - with its singing ghost of Lorca. 

Deep blue shimmering skies, threads of Northern Africa Araby down every narrow street, incense in the alleys, drinking mint tea with the anarchists and beer with the socialists in a bar full of Euro-rats. The nights, with the Alhambra lit and burning, are cut straight out of Van Gogh's madness. Above the street where I am staying are a couple of dozen guitar makers and their shops. In the cool of the evening, they sit in front of their shops, shadows curling like dogs at their feet, and play melancholy tunes that reminds me of something long lost and breaks my heart a thousand times over again. To stand at a distance and watch the man who dresses his dog up like a child or sing with the water overflowing the fountains in the
Plaza Nueva. 


April 5, 2003

Now in Granada. Blue shimmering skies. Drinking Cruz Campos with the Anarchists ("No a la Guerra!") and Te in the Arabic cafes, smoking off the big hooka. 

God I love this country. There is a street leading up the Alcazar that broke my heart last time I was here. Bunch of guitar makers. In the evening they all sit in front of their shops playing. Just beautiful. I wanted to buy one of the guitars. If I fast and don't drink for a few days, I will have enough in my budget to get one. 

This thread of the orient, Arabia, that is here in the south of Spain is so attractive to me. The high pitch of the music and the colors, the smell of it. Just makes you damn happy to be alive. That a war is going on right now is hard to believe and terrible.

We are heading to Morocco in a few days. Africa... sounds like: Mystery and the Erotic.


April 1, 2003

In Barcelona as I type. Been drinking Estrellas on the Placa Reial, watching the slow parade of sad humanity: human statues, fire dancers, mimes, guitar players. Wanted to but a canary from the guy on Las Ramblas, but knew that I would fall in love with the stupid canary and end up carrying it all over Spain

The weather is beautiful, sunny and blue. 

Went to the Picasso Museum today. Amazing and stimulating as always - such an erotic old fuck. Trying to head up to Tibidabo to drink a bottle or two of wine and dance with the city and the stars.

Going to go sketch the Sagrada Familia tomorrow. Want to spend a few hours with the melting icons.

Our cash goes about twice as far here as it did in London. We are definitely going to spend an evening walking around sipping on a bottle of absinthe until we start hallucinating.


March 31, 2003

Been uncovering resonance point in Jonah and Lear. Something about turning away from higher callings - or maybe surrendering to lower ones. Also find odd and violent comfort in the Old Testament Prophets - in particular Isaiah. Thunder on the Mountain and Blood in the Well. Deliberately unhinging my spirit. Shaking the Flesh off the Bones. 

The Camino will be a little cool and there is still snow up in the mountains that I will be crossing. So it's not quite the tropical realm that most suits my spirit. Although, I will be down in the south of Spain, Sevilla and Granada, etc., for a week or so and am going to try to get over to Tangier for a day or two. We'll see.

Lost myself inside the Tate for a while, dreaming with the late Turners and the Blakes. 

Headed to Barcelona in a few hours. 

***

Just got into Barcelona (an hour ago) and made a pilgrimage, of sorts, to one of my most favorite places in the world, the Placa Real. Had a couple of pints of Estrella, watched the street musicians and couple almost fucking on the benches - definitely not in England any more.

It hits me everytime I return here: the feel and atmosphere of Spain resonate with something essential within me. I love this country. 

The fire inside is burning bright. 


February 27, 2003

Moved back in with Sam after an abortion of 10 months at 34th and Speedway. I'd rather pay $300 a month and travel the world than $600 for a shit "condo". We took over half of the middle room - which is where most of the books are now and the computer. Also got half of
the garage in shape - kind of like a late night decompression chamber / hole in the wall museum. Good place to play guitar on rainy days when everyone else is asleep.


February 25, 2003

Ice covered world outside. I slipped and slid up to the Hadji Mart on the corner of 51st and Airport only to discover that they were closed. Goddamn. Evidently, the avarice of the owners is utterly thwarted by snow. So I bribed Sam out of a bottle of Sicilian red that is quite good. Makes me want to swim over there and fall in love with a sweet little Italian woman that
later is blown up in a car. Anyway...

I'll have around 3 grand for the trip - which works out to about $65 a day. Got a few website gigs that will pay off to add to the lucrative bar money. I can have a damn good time on $50 a day. So I'll be good. I just can't care about money unless it is all down to the wire.

Thinking about this: Hitchcock, in many of his films, has what he called a "MacGuffin". A MacGuffin is a plot device that gets the narrative going: a secret formula, or briefcase
with secret documents. In Pulp Fiction, there was a briefcase MacGuffin. Anyway, you never really find out what the formula was or what was in the briefcase. But it serves to catalyse the plot, to drive the normal characters to do something out of the ordinary. 

At one point, Hitchcock was asked why these things were called MacGuffins. He replied that the story went that there was once a man on a train riding through Scotland. Another man boarded and carried a large case with him into the compartment. The first man asked the
newcomer what was in the unusual case. The second man replied, Well, that's a MacGuffin. The first man was quiet for a moment then asked, What's a MacGuffin? And the second man replied, A MacGuffin is a trap for the tigers that roam around the Scottish Highlands. The
first man thought about this, then said, But there are no tigers in the Scottish Highlands. And the second man replied, Well, then, I guess that's not a MacGuffin.

The point is that the MacGuffin is simply a device to get the story going. You shouldn't question it. If you do, you ruin the magic and mystery of the tale. Regrettably, I have such a tendency to question the MacGuffin to death. I think I wasted at least five years of my life in pursuit of such ontological questions: Why is there Being instead of no-Being? But then one wise day it just dawned on me to relax and let the story happen, to stop being so ontological and become a bit more epistemological.


Friday, January 24, 2003

Perhaps to stay alive I need to write constantly. Reestablish the old dialogue. Get the words chanting inside my head out onto the page – onto this at least. On the one hand, I know that it is no Holy Act of Worship, no petroglyphic irrevocable reification. (Does this even make sense?) But on the other, I know that it is. Disguised underneath the markings of my sad language IS something more, that ineffable meaning of all Being. I listen to myself speak at times and hear the Voice of this Being. I should write that down. But confronted with the page, my thoughts become dreamlike and vaporous and the forms that were once so solid within slip though the nets of language.

However, I am dying. I must rekindle this fire within. So I resort to writing anything and everything that drifts through my mind, hoping perhaps at some point that I might accidentally catch something of value.

Currently reading Titan: the Life of John D. Rockefeller. Continuing my interest in biographies Curious Figures in American History. So far: Orson Welles for theater, radio, stage and screen; Lyndon Johnson for Texas History and the mid-20th century American picture; Theodore Roosevelt for image of the late 19th century man; and now Rockefeller for the economic figure. What am I trying to trace or figure here? Do all men in their 40s have a compulsion to delve into the lives of the Great Men of their time? Or can I rationalize something more artistic – some design for a fictional creature? Who knows? But I find the lives endlessly fascinating for what I see of myself in them and, perhaps more, for what I do not.

My days have recently turned more serious. I believe that I have sickened myself beyond a point that I ever believed possible before. Alcohol and cocaine seem like anathemas to me now. No longer does that tired banter of everyday life satisfy. I seem not to be able to taste or smell much. My taste for the Games of the Vulgar is gone and I fear my face betrays me more and more. I’d always hoped for awakening, a Great Transformation. What I have fallen into is more of a hammering nausea for the life I have been living so uselessly. The profound moment of reflection shimmers upon the surface of the water in the bowl of a toilet filled with my own disgusting essence.

Well, so much for the joy of life in 2003. 

I can trace no way out except for this, this returning to the writing regardless, to the endless scribbling of the Word. 


February 19, 2003

Been sick since Valentine's - the flu, not love yet. Had to break up three fights at the Showdown during the Valentine's day massacre. Only one was bloody. Come on people now...

And since then has been 103 degree fever and bad DVDs. Swept Away and Fear Dot Com. God save me from having too high a fever to read.

Worked tonight from 7 to 11, tomorrow I'm there all day. You never told me how lonely the same old stories at the bar can be sometimes. I feel like I am trapped in a George Jones song. Played over and over and over...

Just read The Life of Pi: an interesting book. 

Haven't been saving too much money yet for the trip. And I wonder if I am going to spend the most of it walking around Northern Spain on $10 a day. Not so bad. Just don't want to be fucking sick anymore. Thinking about trying to find work up there
somewhere... expatriating...


January 31, 2003

Am I the Fool? You've got me cutting open head and looking through the shit for a diamond.

The hallowed works of J. Collins came from the last book dungeon at Half-Price. No milky events there. But the last straw on my back as far as the books were concerned. No suffering there. I loved it all, just didn't want the rituals to become routines and the sacrifices become compromises. My jib just isn't cut out for that corporate retail world.

If FringeWare (or europa) were still around, I'd still be there.

Europe: Spain - taking a ten day 150 km pilgrimmage to Compostella.  Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla. Hopefully Morocco - Tangiers and Fez. Then up through France, stopping in Paris and Chartres. England - Cambridge, London and Oxford. Be gone for about 6 weeks.


January 30, 2003

In my over-imaginative way, I think I must have killed the albatross somewhere back there and now am on the Ancient Mariner's Ship of Death.

"My lips were wet, my throat was cold,
My garments all were dank;
Sure I had drunken all my dreams,
And still my body drank."

On the good days, I try to see it all as an ancient ritual: the watering-hole, the shared experience of intoxication, conversation amongst friends instead of home with the TV. But the sad truth, that "disintegration", is always there.

So banal that it ends up being captured in a bumper
sticker: 

"It used to be wine, women and song. Now it's just a
six-pack, the old lady and the TV."

I do believe that IT has to be there regardless of whether or not you are on the mountains
of in the cave; the hallowed halls of academia or the stinking pits of a beer bar. Granted, each require their own forms of discipline. 

But I would much rather work at the Showdown 30 hours a week for 50% more money than to spend 40 hours a week for less money helping a frustrated housewife find the latest Jackie Collins. But that's more a function of having done one more than the other. 

March 19: 41 years on the planet. I love getting older. Feels more and more that I am coming into my own. Like a hat that used to never fit on my head.

Struggling to hold on to the bone in this world. It's like trying to calm a monkey down by grabbing its tail.

I think many things will change after this trip.



2002


March 18, 2002

40 years old. sounds like a sigh, a curse. How did I get this old?

I feel like a child, especially when I do coke like this.

There is only the stream, the peacable kingdom of ecstasy, the out of the body, the Gone

Go Sweet Dust Go

Murdering the Self, slowly and surely.

Phases of love:

Greed and the gold across the Desert

Sophie and the Razor's Edge

The person standing next to you without leaning

time devours the weak

sad faces in the bars

eaten alive by the beast

and knowing it



July 27, 2000

Greetings, my friend.

Yes, been working hard and playing hard. Something about the one leads to the other. Things are slowing down a bit this next week, so I should be more responsive.

Jennifer and I are still discussing the potentials and pitfalls of moving. The mythical "Great Job" always seems to loom on the horizon like that White Whale. If it were to come into my sighting, I imagine that I might just want to swim out there next to it and caress its side as it swam away forever. What there is of Ahab within me is reserved for my interior oceans. Anyway, New York, Mexico, Europe, Greece. Who knows? I think anywhere but here might be apt. When any decision is made, rest assured that I will let you know where and when - especially if its coming at you. You are a strong pull. But the city itself also exerts its own fascination.

The two images sent today, I think, are some of your best work. There is something to the landscape, the color, the cloud-like words. Brings to mind extra-terrestrial realms, but also a world deeply familiar. The color, in the context of the most recent work, seems almost to startle. Not sure why though. Anyway, there's my two cents.

Check out the newest incarnation of Booklist.com when you get a chance. There is a link to a review of The Outsider that might interest you.

I'm home all night, so you'll probably hear from me later - Scot


July 16, 2000

First day off in a while. One more week of heavy work and then back to a more sane part-time schedule. Our phone had been cut-off so I have to use the phone here at the Housesitting. I'll call this evening. The place sounds interesting. And I won't waste your time asking questions here. I wanted to rattle off a few comments, notes, impressions of the latest images you've sent: rapunzel V: strange landscapes there in the bottom of the painting with the ominous snarl of gesture hanging just out of sight above. miranda: keep wanting to read narrative into it. Am particularly drawn to the the boat-like image chameleon's holiday: don't think I've ever seen this side of you. Something of truth in the title. Like the old Sheperd drawing for Winnie the Pooh but done by an East European with a dislike for children. little shit: you've got something there in those beige layers and fading words. Evocations... class 86d: transitory chalkboard permanence butons: again the new drawing that have a creature (funeary birds?) quality, wondering the mind into bizarre narratives. Strange latent sexualities. ivan said: this is my favorite of the ominous snarl of gesture series. Something pubic in the blackness of those line . What works for me here is the containment of the gesture. The rigid cut-off heightening the aesthetic contrasts. transformations rant: cartoonish stylizations. Illustrations for a children's story gone awry. A hallucinatory and dark Harris Burdock image. For each of these fragments, I have much more to say. But I at least wanted to get these few comments to you as I sat here perusing my Shelton Gallery this afternoon. Talk to you soon - Scot





June 2000

1 - Thu - On a weird schedule


2 - Fri - Publish article on www.subbrilliant.com about iPublishing


June 5, 2000

The iBooks deal didn't work out - to say the least. Rode my bike out to a .com on 360, arrived drenched in sweat and smiling. Interviewed in super refrigerated conference room. Everything else was cubicles and fluorescent lights.A bunch of Miata driving guys in Tommy Hilfiger gear that think by listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers that they are "thinking outside of the box". The interview just became more and more antagonistic as it went on. When he asked what I thought I could do for his company, I told him that, quite honestly, after a fair amount of research, I couldn't figure out what the hell his company was actually doing. I could find no real source of significant revenue. And that perhaps I could help them actually sell something. The guy asked me what my hobbies were. Told him that I didn't believe in "hobbies", but that I took reading and writing seriously. He asked me what role I could play in the company. I replied that I didn't want to ever see myself playing a role anywhere except on a stage. You get the picture. I couldn't see myself working amongst the all too pompous we're-going-to-go-for-an-IPO group there anyway. It seems I've happily doomed myself to either be employed entirely upon my own terms or at the bottom of the ladder. There is always the writing and the poetry. But I could make more money mowing lawns that I will ever get for that.

So I didn't get the job.

Been working a lot on booklist.com, trying to build it into a showcase. Working out a lot. And HTMLizing some Bone Carver stories. Read The Luneberg Variation by Maurensig.

Also read the first Harry Potter just to see what all the shit was about. Not bad. Wish I was a kid again. Wish I was fishing again...


8 - Thu - Send email to Shelton. Move over to Tim and Valerie's house, where we will be staying until August 15th. Rhett is upset but eventually warms up to us. Raining and thundering.


9 - Fri - A lot of rain. A tropical depression, up from the Bay of Campeche, has settled over Central Texas.


10- Sat - Take Rhett on a morning walk.More rain. Jennifer works at the Showdown from 10 to 2. Around 1:30 she calls and says that Greg bailed on her. I ride down to help her close.


11 - Sun - Take Rhett on a morning walk. Jennifer makes cappuccinos and toast.

Publish article on www.subrilliant.com about NASA.

Work on Owen Chase. Argue with Jennifer because I am writing so much again. She goes to workout at Hyde Park and then play tennis with Amanda at Shipe Park. Have a dinner at the House with Amanda. Artichoke dip. Stewed cabbage with sausage. Jennifer get a call that her boss, Ronnie Earl Smith is having a birthday party. We drive around and don't find it. Go to the Hole in the Wall. Buy a weak quarter from Andy. Jennifer wants to go find the party. I want to go over to Eman's for Keri's Birthday Party. We split up.

I start biking over there but my clothes are too hot. Go over to the House. Change. Do all of the coke - about two lines. Ride over to Eman's. Hang out there, drinking beer and talking to Eman and Jeff until Jennifer shows up. Give Keri the boon box that Mysti gave us. We leave the party and go back to the Hole for "one drink". Stay for a couple. Stop in at the Showdown. Have a couple of more beers. I talk to Justin about what anyone can do about evil in the world. Jennifer plays pool with some guys.


June 13, 200

From Jennifer:

scot, yes, im drunk i have been out all night your pissed at me but did i do anything wrong?
no. i spent time with doe & greg & chris burns and it wasnt just your loser hole in the wall night 
i had fun.when it was time to go, i left. you seem angry. are you? i dont know why and if you are i'd like you to explain. i know i came home late and drunk, but i called, i didnt drive, and im not bothering you so why are you mad?
    i love you,i miss you. i think you need time to write and do your thing i want to give you that i dont want to get in the way, there is alot to say about that, i shouldn't get into it now, just that i understand what your trying to do and im trying to give you some space.
    i had an idea tonight, i dont know maybe you will think it foolish. but i thought it would be good
to start up a web sight that sold austin music, signed and unsigned a sight that had sound bites and a few words about various cd's? what do you think? more later love-jennifer



June 25, 2000

shelton walsmith wrote: 

i do know....while i'm working outside of that i relish time...it's all precious...i promised k when i quit kelton last year that weekends would be relaxed and spent together... she is wonderful and i love spending time cooking and working outside with her...when monday comes back around it feels like that hour your talking about is back...i roll in it...are you also profiting from the booklist thing? what are your thoughts about the project i am proposing? the
letters etc? 

S - 

Sweet sweet time. Feel like my balloon is full again - so to speak. And floating. 

No profits from the Booklist site. If you look at the very bottom of each page, there is a little disclaimer. The name Booklist is copyrighted and used by the ALA. So for me to use it to make money would lead, potentially, to some problems. Lynn, from europa, got the name years ago - not knowing about the ALA journal. He offered it to me as a site to fool around with, to create something that I could point to as an example of what I do. So, in that way, it could
bring in some moola someday. 

I think that the project is admirably ambitious. 1000 is lost in the mists to me. Steiner once wrote about imaging the number of hundreds of thousands of people that had been tortured and killed by the Khmer Rouge, sometimes thousands a day in the Killing Fields. He said that he could get a fix on a few, maybe two dozen, fifty, a hundred at the very most. After that, it all just became a statistic, a number removed of its human face. To imagine a thousand was beyond him.  What I mean by this horrible negative analogy is that I can imagine the creation of artifacts, each with their own face and identity only up to a hundred at most. To set before yourself a thousand creations, authentic and labored artifacts, each to have its own laughing or crying face, is heroic and I applaud your courage.  I am certain that it will lead me towards the curiosity of progress on a constant basis: where are you today? how many is that? And to discern the shaping of grander themes that will emerge like newsprint photographs only after five or six hundred artifacts are viewed as one.  I hope you don't go insane. Or insaner. The more practical side is also something beyond me. At some point I would wish that a benefactor might emerge to provide you with the money to buy the building and such. Nevertheless, I hope that you carry it on to the end - whenever that might be - regardless.  The Thousand Creations of Shelton Walsmith. A title for Seuess or Poe. Perhaps, somewhere in between. 
Keep me posted. 


June 26, 2000

I think at a certain point - and this is soon to arrive more fleshed out in a letter - I looked up to see that I had created a woeful horde of words. Yet, still I created. And the pile grew. Until I became haunted by it. Until I began to wonder and read Ecclesiastes over and over:

9 The thing that has been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done; and there is no new thing under the sun.

10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it has been already of old time, which was before us.

11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

I don't mean to throw scripture at you. I just need to explain myself. Those italics are in the original and I still get hung upon them like Jesus. And the Preacher's words infected my ear: It is all vexation of spirit. Vexation.

And so I "spend" a year or two mingling with the crowd that feels no such vexations. They don't care. The more beers that can wash away the posts of their piers, the better. Or, for beer, substitute, money, drugs, sex, etcetera ad nauseam. In those misty moments when I might talk of creation, there was, is, and always shall be, such enthusiasm. Yea! Let us build a kingdom in the clouds! But not right now. Raise another glass with me and we'll drink to our greatness tomorrow. And all know that tomorrow never comes. But the night before always does. And those italics...

Every so often the printers of papers compile lists of time wasted at stoplights and wiping shit from holes and chewing food. And I know that most are driven towards multi-tasking their every instant: the guy on the cell phone, eating, making those deals, while he is on the pot shitting, making notes to sell and buy, etcetera ad nauseum. And the skull and bones fill all those holes in the ground.

For me, as hard as I might try otherwise, there is no choice. I don't stand at the stoplight remembering the article about how much of my life is wasted at stoplights. Or on elevators. Or in waiting rooms. My mind is continually vexed by this thing I must create. In fact, during those moments of "waiting", I am grateful for the lack of distraction. I don't ever have any place to go to be where I am always.

Recently, an acquaintance remarked upon the scene in the Jack Nicholson film, "As Good As It Gets", where he walks into the waiting room at some doctor's office and asks everyone there: "Have you ever thought that this is as good as it gets?" I suppose that most people laugh because some part of them worries that it is true: Life is just a cry (or a wait) and then you die. But my spirit is vexed by what I believe is new under the sun, by that which may be vanity to some beings on a distant planet, but is blood and earth and everything worth living for to me.

Koestler talks of living "as if". And really, there is no choice. We all live our lives "as if" they had some meaning. Whether there is or not is a question left to those who want to open up the MacGuffin and see the Scottish Tiger... to those who can't get watch the rest of the Hitchcock film because they don't know the precise words that the man whispered the Jimmy Stewart in "The Man Who Knew Too Much".  I create and keep my shoulder to the wheel believing in a presence that is real. And there is no number that can be put to it. In my mind, it would be like putting a square to a circle. But there are numbers and they will always mount up.

The aspect about your project that fascinates me is that it demands involvement by others in what is, I assume, a constant daily process for you. By setting a number, you open a window into the process for them to watch. There is something of a joke here: a pretension that all of a sudden you are going to start doing more than you do anyway. I smile because it seems natural to me. And what I admire about it is that you demand such a large number to be seen as a whole - as it should be.

After spending many hours rereading Ecclesiastes, of hearing nothing new under the sun, nothing new under the sun, nothing new under the sun, one day I saw the big ole Bone Carver smile: Ecclesiastes, the Preacher, in what might have been the greatest episode of vanity yet performed in the history of the Western World, he wrote it down. He created the word upon the page to stand in the stead of the thing,: the vexation... of his spirit. 

On the morning after the night of hard drinking to all of our dreams, I wake up to the dream and follow -

Yours -

Scot 


shelton walsmith wrote: 

"in 27 years i've drunk 50,000 beers...they just wash agains't me like waves agains't the piers" 
silver jews 

a 70 year long life is only 25,550 days....how many of those does one remember in full? Zippety doodah probably.Numbers are not my strong suit....i just looked up a few weeks ago and saw that these drawings were piling up....sometimes 10 a day....as i looked through them alone or with a friend i would rarely remove even one, having already painted over or torn up failures as they happened....i also noted that whether thru email or in person people were across the board responding to not just the work but the multiplicity....i thought i wonder how long i can keep this up...a month?2months?a year?the series of drawings began as a response to this new the wall in our backyard...i wanted to engage the house itself in my process and not rely on the idiom and symbols i had been resorting to...next i did the door drawing and wall drawing directly on the house in order to trust my crudest hand to make marks worth leaving...and that was the point...the terrain i realized i was ultimately searching for...i want to bypass so much of the fear that actually impedes my just walking up to the canvas,paper,wall etc and go to work....how often have you and i talked about shutting down the chatter...?...sustaining the alpha wave,,,everyone keeps saying,'you are so prolific' and while i like the way that sounds i always think 'you don't know what prolific is if you think this is it'...i'm just dancing by the
river...but i've yet to become the river....so that's the way i've arrived at the waterfall...i'm
challenging myself and asking aggressively instead of passively for support...i m asking the studio
work to pay for the studio...I am like you when it comes to imagining the literal numbers....i have no
more than a 100 presently...in that dept i need only take it bird by bird...5 a day...but when it comes
to the people who buy them...that's a different story,,,,my mailing list includes realistically under a
100 who would even entertain such frivolity... 
still i am optomistic... i have about 2000 pledged...and I am blessed with a handful of collectors who
have pledged to buy multiples...Gary Hustwit (former incommuicado publisher recently sold his i.net
startup MP3LIT.com to Salon.com for 5 million and has since started collecting my work) Chuck
Kelton(my former boss) embraces and collects the riskiest of my tendencies, and friend /landlord/benfeactor Richard Giles who is 12 years my senior encourages me always to scoff at realists and be entirely impractical( he
bought all of my best bagheaded paintings for 3000$ allowing me to quit Kelton last year).As I've
told you Richard was very torn when he bought his upstate farm; he had put so much of himself in
this place but he could'nt afford both...when k and i agreed to sublet he could have legimately
rationalized and asked us to pay several hundred dollars above his rent(as is the standard) but
instead we pay exactly what he pays750 a month. My absurd idea of making 150000 150 at a time
to buy this place had him rolling."ha ha ha ha ha ha ha that's a good one ha ha ha ha ho boy ha ha
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, oh, count me in i'l take several!!!! It is ridiculous! i might as well have
said i want to sell 150 at a $1000 but i want to shoulder the burden of proof...that's what it's
always about i want to spend alot of time doing alot of work....150$ is a friday night(not even a
weekend) for many of the new yorkers i'm to which i'm proposing... it may seem a complete
contradiction but i have to have faith....into the mystic i go... 


ps 
my scanner is still in the shop...i think i've sent you everything that i've got scanned...when it's
home again i will start sending these new talismen...and i hope you will give me your support in the
form of insight and criticism...without which between 1989 and the present i dare say i would only
have one eye open...the other might still be sound asleep and dreaming 
sincerely,



May 2000


 4 - Thu -7:30 pm Rehersal Dinner at Castle Hill Cafe. Invited are: myself and Jennifer, Nancy and Jerry, Shannon, Pilar and Shannon (her husband), Sheila and Tom, Richard and JoAnn, Susan and Jay and Stephanie. Head to Nasty's later with Pilar, Shannon W., Tom, Shannon C.. Drink a lot. Head to Hole in the Wall. Drink. Drugs. Stay up all night with Jennifer doing coke and playing Monopoly on the porch. Go to sleep, our wedding night, around 7:00 am. 


5 - Fri - 7:30 pm: Wedding Cememony at the American Legion Hall. Reception following. Jennifer and I leave around 12. Go to our suite at the Austin Motel.Our car has been shoe polished and is dragging cans. Jennifer's mom and sister, Stephanie, had fixed the place up with candles and rose petals on the bed. We stay there for a bit and then head over to the Hole in the Wall. Stay there until closing. Meet Andrew and John. Take them back to the Four Seasons. Order room service and raid the mini-bar. Jennifer and I go back to the room around 4:00. Take baths in the whirlpool and open a few gifts. Pass out on the bed. 


6 - Sat - Stephanie wakes us up at 10:00 with coffee and sweet rolls. We have to check out at 11:00. Pack up everything and go to sit out by the pool with her family. There is a band playing. We get salsa and chips from the Sun and the Moon. Talk and open the rest of the presents. My parents come by. Stay for a moment and then head back to Dallas. 


7 - Sun - Fly to Dallas. Arrive at 7:10 pm. My parents take us out to eat at the Fish House. Good Food. 


8 - Mon - Catch a flight to Puerto Vallarta. Out at DFW at 1:30. No sign of Adventure Tours. The place is packed. Meet Skip and Buster(?), two swinging loser types that, thankfully, do not talk to us for long. Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders are flying down with us to do a calendar photo shoot. Leave Dallas at 4:30 on Champion Airlines. Arrive in Puerto Vallarta at 7:30. Cab to Paradise Village. 


9 - Tue - Get moved into the suite. Into Puerto Vallarta. Dinner at someplace in the Marina - more timeshare. Catch a bus into PV. Walk around the beach and the boardwalk. 


10 - Wed - Hang out by the pool. Disco at night with overpriced tequila. 


11 - Thu - Eat at Andale's. Go to Mariachi Loco. Cab back to the Paradise Village, pass the Nazi at the gate.. 


12 - Fri - Get late check out at 12. Check out amidst the complaints. Walk up to the French Restaurant. Drink good Margarita's and eat some guaca - papaya- mole. Dead birds in the surf. Leave Puerto Vallarta at 7:10, arrive in Dallas at 10:15. 


13 - Sat - Fly to Austin at 1:30. Shelly picks us up at 2:15. 


14 - Sun - Work on online resume for ibooks and such. 


15 - Mon - Texas Book Festival Meeting 5:30 at the Austin History Center. After, I bike over to Bookpeople, look at the Modern Library's new books on film. Then, over to Opal Divine's for a post-wedding party for Hunter and Julie. Have a couple of beers, talk to Mo and Kirk, Britt and Emily, Mike and Gayle. Jennifer shows up with a bunch of pesto deviled eggs that were meant for our wedding but didn't make it. 


16 - Tue - Email to Shelton :

May 16, 2000

Apologia for playing the minor chord. The dimness is there, but more in a sense of Da Vinci ecstasy. No jitters or bugs, just a slow dance under the moon. Night magic. And the "what have I done?" is resonate, I believe, in any authentic act. The ceremony holds within it an enormous amount of ambibuity. This is what haunts. I reference the great masterpiece "Greed" often when some ask me about marriage:

Two individuals, chained to each other at the leg, are walking across the desert carrying a bag of gold. Neither one can carry the entire bag across the desert by themselves. And both of them would rather not share the gold - to put it lightly. There is no way to sever the chan. And to kill the other would mean that one would be dragging a corpse and gold. So they agree to get along, one carrying the gold for a little ways, then the other. (But they are never quite sure that the other won't turn on them at some point.) This is the only way that they will be able to make it through the desert AND keep the gold. Perhaps grim.

But I would have it no other way. It's not that my view of human nature is so dismal, it's just that I am aware of how good that gold feels to hold. Of course, I should emphasize that this "gold" is actually the truth and the beauty of Love. Takes two to carry the Beast. Rest assured that all is well and all shall be well. Now I must go beat upon the door for a while and hope that the prisoner is willing to bribe me a bit longer: I need to go make some money. Yours until the end- Scot


17 - Wed - Jennifer leaves at 11:30 to gpo down to the Law Office for her new job. I get up at 12:00. Leave at 12:45 on my bike for an interview with iBooks at 2:00. Have to go out to 360 and 2222. Arrive sweating. Later, bike back to the room. Fall asleep reading Harry Potter and the Sorverer's Stone. Jennifer calls. I forgot that she was working at the Showdown until 10. Read more. Ride the bike up to Showdown at 10. Stop by to get some Ruby's BBQ. Eat out back. Help with the glasses. Eman and some friends come in. Talk to them. Have a beer. Keri comes in from County Line. Ronnie gives me a pizza. Jennifer and I go home. Stop at The Movie Store and rent "The Insider" and "The Straight Story". Read Permanent Midnight. Get to sleep around 5:00 am. 


18 - Thu - Wake at 11:30 am. Jennifer heads off to work. I work on the computer, watch porn, download new version of Quicktime and some mp3s. Eat BBQ and queso. Work more online. Jennifer comes home at 8:00. Janet gave her $100 as a wedding present. She wants to go to the Hole to pay Charles and settle our tab. We get there areound 9:00. Mikki and Charles are there. I go get some cash from the ATM, Jennifer gets a half from Charles. Sit with Gary Coffee, listen to the Norton's. Feels good to be at the Hole. Been too long since we have been there. Do a line with Trevor in the women's bathroom. Charles' shit is too sticky, difficult to do without a good blade to cut it up. We manage. Sit with Mikki, talk to the regulars. Score a quarter from Mikki in the bathroom. The Norton's play "Sleepwalk" - Jennifer's and my wedding song that goes on forever. Around 10 we realize that we have to leave or stay until 2:00 am. We leave, Jennifer drives, worried about her jaw if she gets pulled over. We make it back. She got drunker on the way home. Shouldn't of let her drive. She has to get up early tomorrow for her new job. Keep telling her to take it easy. But she won't listen. Hang out in the room for a while. She sends email to Greg. Talks to her mom on the phone. Goes outside to write letters. It is now 1:30 and she's still going strong. I've got about an eigth left. Surfing the web, associating off the drug. Call Pilar back. 


19 - Fri - Wake up late. Go to Tacqueria Chappala for breakfast with Rick & Shelly. After, Jennifer drops me off at Half Price Books. I buy Code of Kings, Writing Down the Bones and The Outermost Dream. Walk down to the Showdown to meet Rick at 1:45. Shelly drives us over to UT for the rehersal for the read-through of Rick's play, "The Rainbow Machine". An interesting play. I just had the simple job of reading the stage directions and making the phones ring. Back to Showdown at 5:30. A couple of beers with Rick, David (the director) and James. Jennifer picks me up outside. Stop by Wheatsville for cheese and crackers. Once at home, she has set out our new blue willow dishes and bought a lobster. We cook the lobster but it turns out too tough. But the pasta and salad is good. Clean up after dinner. Watch cable. Greg comes by around 3:00, then leaves. Read Permanent Midnight until about 5:00 am. 


20 - Sat - Up at 10:30 and dress in my black suit. Greg comes by to get a ride. Tell him the truck is full. Rick and Shelly come by. Go down to the State Theater. The play begins at 1:00 and goes on until 2:30. 30 minute Q&A. Then to the Hole in the Wall with Shelly. Watch the Preakness. Then go to the interview with Valerie for the housesitting gig. It goes well. Figure that we've got it. Back home. Jennifer is in a foul mood. I go do laundry. Clean out the car. Put the clothes in the dryer. Shelly calls, says Rick wants to have a few drinks. Jennifer, reluctantly, takes me down there. Makes me walk up the Showdown while she has one drink at the Hole. Rick and I talk at the Showdown for a beer. Then head down the Hole. Jennifer and Shelly are still there. Jennifer is still in a bad mood. Rick and I go over to Mike Burns' house for a party. Shelly calls. Jennifer is still there and too drunk to driver her. Our clothes are still in the dryers. We leave. Get the clothes. I'm not happy about any of this. I also go to take the videos back the The Movie Store. Back at the house, Jennifer is doing her thing on the porch, writing and talking in longwinded repaeat mode. I go in the watch cable and read. Later on, a bigger argument after she wakes me up at 2:30. We end up OK and fucking. Finally get to real sleep around 5:00. 


21 - Sun - Jennifer leaves early to go to the store and hang out with Amanda. Comes home around 1:30. We fuck for a little while. Then eat some sandwiches. Watch cable. Then go up to REI to use the gift certificate Tom gave us. Then to Target to spend our gift certificate there. Then to Amy's for some ice cream. And Mangia for a slice and salad. Then back to the room to watch the Simpson's - the "Behind the Laughter" episode. Call for unemployment check. Go to see Gladiator at Tinseltown North. The film's sound starts to screw up. We get two free tickets each. 


22 - Mon - Email to Shelton 

May 22, 2000

Shelton - Thanks again, for the work. It resonates continually. And the file is one of the cherished ones on my box. Married life, so far, is much the same as the unmarried. And since we are in the same room (a condition that I am certain you understand) we have found ways of aquiring psychological space. Nevertheless, we are moving in a couple of months. The time is long passed that we should have. The sweet tooth is, thankfully, not what it once was. But it nags in my brain on the occassional occassion. It's a constant of the bar scene - as is the sweet smoke. And I am pretty much a sucker for anything that stimulates. At least for a while. There have been down sides aplenty - the least of which is the moola required to really get where it wants to lead you. I am such a creature of excess that I've sat alone in my room with great piles of white pushing harder and harder against that door we have often discussed. Out of my mind, but nailed down to my body like a fish on a cross. And the combination with acid is a bit much: walking in endless cirlces around this vast room, sweating and mumbling over ceaseless prayers to the abandonded god - who burns in the fire. That shit will kill you. Almost did me. As I keep getting older, the money game becomes trickier. I indicated the jailer/ prisoner analogy. I'm up right now for a 35K a year position in a modernistic cubicle with overhead track lighting for a prison called iBooks. I'm keeping an open mind. But ever bone in Bonesy Jones knows that as much as the money may make the meals sweeter, that's no meat that I want to eat. Unemployment runs out in a couple of months. So the frying pan is frying. Just finished Irving's A Widow for One Year. Beautiful windows into the souls of popular writers. Hope all is well in the Big City - Scot


23 - Tue - Receive unemployment check. Cook steak and shrimp, potatoes, corn and bread. A great dinner. Talk to my parents for a long time and then Pilar for a while. 


24 - Wed - Jennifer works at the law office from 11 to 6, then at the Showdown 6 to 10. I get up when she leaves. Watch "Rock the Cradle". Work on an Orson Welles Page for booklist.com all day. Ride the bike to HEB, pay the phone bill. Drop some movies (Star Wars I and Outside Providence). Ride up to Showdown. Talk to Greg. Jennifer is irritable, her back hurts her. She has some coke. I do a little in the office. Talk to Britt and Emily for a while. Keri arrives around 11. Jennifer and I go down to the Hole to settle a tab, see if we can find any drugs. Mikki isn't there. But Chuck is. Jennifer gets a hlaf from him. I listen to Dang, not a bad band - sort of an offshoot from the Meat Purveyors. She gets some but needs to treat Don to a bump. They are in the bathroom for a while. I head on up to the Showdown while she does a shot. At the Showdown, talk to Eman and Keri. Keri and Jennifer go back down to the Hole for a shot. Drink a few beers. Lawrence comes in, asks for a hook-up. Jennifer had told him that we had some. I go out to the car and give him a bump, noting that there is less than a quarter in the bag. A little disappointed, I go back in.Jennifer and I leave. At home, around 12:30,, do the rest of the drugs. Play around online and listen to Ricky Brousard. I try to go to sleep and manage to fall into a light doze, then wake up. Jennifer is asleep. I play around online for an hour or so. A headache is coming on, so I try to go to bed. End up reading Isaac's Storm until about 7:00 am. 


25 - Thu - Jennifer has an appointment with Marcus about her jaw and back at 11:30. She gets up and leaves then. Returns before she has to go to the law office at 1:30. She cooks up some steak and green beans. I wake up after she leaves and start to work online, primarily on extracting data from the old fringeware site and putting it into Chronos. She returns at 6:30. Takes me up to Holiday House for the 2 for $3.00 chopped beef. Come back and eat. She leaves for dinner at Julie's with Doreen and Janet. I work all night. Later she calls at 12:20 while I'm in the shower. I miss the call. Says she's going out to find out where I am drinking. 


26 - Fri - Receive check from parents for $700. Deposit 500 at bank, take out 200. Go to Book Festival Office. I am depressed. We go to Manuel's for lunch. Home. Went to see "Mission Impossible II" at 3:30. After, hung out at the room. Then went to get a printer for me at CompUSA and some food at Whole Foods. Back home to eat. Talk to Sam about moving out. Drink some wine. Make some waffles. Read. Sleep. 


27 - Sat - Wake up around 1:00 pm. Jennifer makes me coffee. Watch "Carefree" with Astaire and Rodges. Jennifer makes breakfast. At 4:00, she leaves for a massage with Pam. Work online. She returns around 6:00. We talk. Around 7:00 whe makes some dinner. Eat and watch TV. Work on the computer. 

Jennifer worked at Showdown from 10 to 2. I go up with her. Incredible winds, some rain. But no storm really delivers. Walk down to the Hole. sit around with Al, Murphy, Trevor, Mike and Gail. Watch the door for Leo for a while. No one is there. Have a few beers. Talk to Brooks about the mats. Leave around 11. Meet L. on the street. He sells me a big rock of coke for $50, tells me his grandmother died. Back to the Showdown. It's all dead tonight. All the students are gone. Go in the office and do a couple of lines. Talk with Jennifer. Walk down to Mojo's, talk to Justin and Teresa,. Go to the bathroom, do a couple of more lines. Back to the Showdown. Justin comes down. Talk to him a while. Go down to the Hole for last call. Get a tequila and a beer for Jennifer. Come on home. Talk. Do more coke by myself. 
  

April 2000

April 14, 2000

Shelton -

I'm heading off to Dallas for the weekend. Thus my own response will have to wait to be somewhat fuller. Nevertheless, I believe more people need to be antagonized, regardless of the medium or the message. The great tragedy - and I mean this in the fullest and most literal sense of the phrase - is the most people are asleep. And many are simply dead. Dead to the world in the sense that nothing will effect them, nothing will inflame their passion. Eliot's "Hollow Men", in comparison, seems complimentary. These are the Absent Men. Living Voids.

But what moves us? I struggle with myself constantly over the recovery of the sources of my own passion. Constant recovery, an urgent need to restore my self to those deep sources of enthusiasm, joy, bliss and inspiration. Every single instant, I am bombarded with a world of overwhelming sensation. I realize that the filters, gatekeepers, are vital for my sanity. But I also am painfully aware that such filters can lure me into the Sleep of the Quietly Desperate. It is so easy to allow the gatekeeper to lead you through and shut the door behind you. As the key turns, you hear that laughter from the other side. Before you is Nothing. The point of the Gate (images of the Door in the Art Institute are fresh before me.) is that it stimulates the imagination to wonder what is on the other side. Those who go through are lost. The rituals that keep me attuned to the Pulse, that keep me wondering like a ten year old child before the Gate, have saved me again and again. They sit like sentinels waiting for the image sent by a friend, for the word or phrase in a book or paper, for the tree that stands out of the bleak landscape, for the gesture, the glance, the pure and fleeting glimpse into the Beauty of the World. When this comes, the trumpets blast and the the thirty-eight horses of my years come bursting out of the barn dragging my sorry sleepy ass into the dead thick Pulse of it all.

Perhaps I have been remiss in not stating this to you at some point, but the images you send to me, regardless of medium, have the power to overwhelm me with response. In the end, it is about beauty, Beauty. This is always the point where communication breaks down between myself and the Post-modern types or the McLuhan-iskys: Beauty transcends the language and demands a response that is beyond us. One of the portraits of Rembrandt is almost maddening in its ineffability, in its consistent defiance of the mind to label or name it, to capture its Essential Presence. All great art is substantiated by this. And it is a shame that in this fast, hot, buzzing, click and drag world, that so few have it within their souls any more to open themselves up to such Presence. The Gatekeeper opened the Gate wide and they went running through, not even pausing to consider what they were leaving, what was right before them. And now, unregenerate, they wander the Waste Land, clicking on Rembrant's face and dragging a Beauty that is so real as to almost negate them into the trash.

Again, though whatever medium, please never stop delivering to me these aspects of your own Beauty and Soul - I will write to you in a few days when I return from Dallas - Scot


 28 - Fri - Cocktail Party at Opal Divine' s Freehouse, given by Shelly and Rick with Nikki. They prepared a wonderful dinner buffet. Cash bar. About 50 people showed up. Keith and Charlotte gave us their presents. Mike and Gail gave us their's. Charles gave us a half. 
  

March 2000


1 - Wed - Go over to Mike's at 12:30. We are both hungover and tired. Help him organize IRS forms. Meet him up at the Hole. Eat some nachos. Talk to an irritable Brooks. We work in the office filing papers until 5:30, when Debbie comes by. Mike's out of drugs, so no one stays long. Agree to meet him tomorrow early to dump trash.

Stay in, watching TV, reading, thinking too much about it all. Drive to Showdown to help Jennifer close at 10:30. Walk over Trudy's for queso. Read current Rolling Stone about Santana. See Jim and Jamie. Exchange a few words. They buy me a margarita. Back to Showdown. Read, help wash and clear tables. Read magazines. Hunter and Susan come in wasted. We drive Hunter home, barely able to give us directions.



2 - Thu - Wake up at 6:45 am. Call Mike. Says it's too late, that we'll dump the trash this weekend. Wake at 11:30 for the Book Festival Lunch. Shower and shave. Drive down to Gilligans. Talk with Cyndi, Jaqueline and Mary Ellen until 2:00. 

Call Mike and tell him that I'm busy today. Jennifer and I fuck for an hour. I make a pot of Ruta Maya. 
Jennifer goes out with Shelly and Nikki at 6:00. I give her 100 for a half of coke. 
I read, write, workout, jog. Start "Notes on Discipline". 

Up to Hole at 11:30. Talk to Greg and George for a while. Too crowded. Lipstick Traces Hoot Night with the Rude Mechanicals. Jennifer is working. Comes back to give me a half. Have a couple of more beers. Talk to Jenn Daly. Tell Jennifer that I'm going up to the Showdown. Will wait one beer for her. She arrives late. We have another beer. Catch a cab. She wants another beer. Stop at Nasty's. Drink a beer until 2:00. Catch another cab home. Do some coke. Play checkers. Drinking red wine. More coke. Save a half. Wait until Jennifer is really hungry for it and then break it out. Drink and do drugs, play Monopoly until 6:00. 



3 - Fri - Up at 1:00. Messages from Greg wanting his $100 that Jennifer is holding for him. I jog down to the Showdown to get the car. Beautiful day. Burning off the slight booze and heavy coke hangover. Get the bike at the Showdown, load it into the car. Stop at Wheatsville. Buy some bread and crackers, goat cheese, chipolte cream cheese spread, two bottle of Goodflow juice. Jennifer and eat on the bed with all the windows open. Watching an old Monroe film on TMC.


Leave to sit outside somewhere and have a drink or coffee. Drop long overdo videos back to Hollywood. Drive around a little while in rush hour traffic. Go to Dog & Duck. Jennifer has a Bloody Mary. I have a Dos XXs. Order of nachos and a salad. Eat too much. Can't drink. Leave. Stop at Fresh Plus on the way home, buy Diet Cokes, ice cream and magazines. Stop at Corner Store for ice and a drink for Jennifer. 


Read magazines and watch Simpson's. Go over to Sharon's - where Greg stayed last night - to take him his money. Fill up the car and get beer on the way. Drink a couple of Bud Lights at Sharon's. On the way home, stop in at I Love Video on Airport, rent "A Civil Action", "Summer of Sam" and "Father of the Bride II". Home. Watch Simpson's at 9:00. Seinfeld. Part of Late Night. Order some pizzas from Pizza Hut. Jennifer goes on a frustrated search for chicken fingers. Pizza arrives. Eat myself sick. Go to get ice cream at corner store. Get Bluebell Vanilla and Butter Pecan. Eat the Vanilla with chocolate syrup. More TV. Watch "A Civil Action" - a fair film with a disappointing ending. Read Gates of the Alamo until 6:00. 


4 - Sat - Up at 2:30. Call Mike. Agree to head over for a few hours. Try to make espresso for Jennifer and I but it doesn't come out well. Jennifer eats some cantelope. I eat some leftover pizza in the car. Get over to Mike's at 3:15. Help to sort out his office/room. Talk. Eat a chicken salad sandich. Watch cable with him. His legs start hurting him worse, so he doesn't want to work anymore. Agree to work tomorrow with him to dump the trailer and get wood for the back stage and bar. Get back to the room at 6:00. Call Jennifer at the Showdown. Straighten room. Eat the rest of the pizza. Pint of Bluebell Butter Pecan. Channel surf cable. Watching "Lost in Space" for a while. Talk to Jennifer a few times. Lawrence calls around 8:30 and wants a space to "hang with some chick" for about twenty minutes. I agree and give him the address - as long as it's just for 20 minutes. Start working on the Mexican Budget page. then switch to the current chronology. Mike left a message. I return his call. Wants to meet at 10 instead of 9 tomorrow. Fine. It's now 10:10. No sign of Lawrence. 


Write and read for a while. Jennifer calls. I drive down to the Showdown at 11:30. Fairly crowded. Really don't feel like drinking or talking to anyone. Get a pint of Dos XXs and sit with Al, Britt, Peter and Alex. They are mostly drunk so the conversation is idiotic. Tim and James arrive, sit with us. I use helping Jennifer as an excuse to leave the table. Work for a while. Borrow $20 from Jennifer. Walk down to Mojo's and get a double latte. Arrange to have lunch with Justin on Monday at 1:00.


Back to the Showdown. Myra shows up with a group of girls. But there are no problems. Help clear tables and clean dishes. Talk with Britt and Alex. Bored, I walk down to the Hole in the Wall for a shot and a beer. Sit in back on a pool table with Jeff. Talking of nothing. Do another shot with him. Talk to Ken Leick and Lawrence, who just smiles. Back to the Showdown. Help close. Make a pastrami on rye sandwich to take home. Jennifer made $240. Stop by HEB on the way, buy $45 of groceries. Home. Read an Entertainment Weekly. Eat too much again. Try to go to sleep in order to get up early, but end up laughing and playing with Jennifer until 5:00. 


5 - Sun - Wake up at 9:45 from deep and luxuriantly involved dreams. Procrastinate before realizing that it doesn't make any sense. Drive over to Mike's. Of course, he's still asleep. Sit around for an hour while he wakes up. do a bump after he gives his sister some. "For paying his bills," she says. Load up his trailer some more. Drive down to the City Dump. Mike sleeping the entire way in narcoleptic fits. I don't mind the drive. Discover that the dump is closed. Sit by the side of the road while Mike calls his sister to get her to call a dump that might be open. We wait for her to call back. Mike instantly falls asleep. I sit there pondering how surreal my life currently is. Finally his sister calls back. No dumps open. We drive back to his place. Put the trailer up on a jack. Drive the truck to the Hole in the Wall. Have lunch. Then drive to Home Depot for the lumber for the back stage. It pretty much sums up the entire day in that the guy helping me load all the lumber into the truck only has one arm. Finally another guy shows back up. Drive slowly back to the Hole. Go pick up Jeff. Unload into the back. Jennifer has biked down and I tell her that I'll see her at the house in half an hour. 

Drive the truck back to Mike's. He drives his car - that he was too wasted to drive home the other night. At the house, he wants to work on his boat. I tell him that I have to get home. He wants me to help him move his boat over. But first, we have to jack it up for the hitch on the truck. This takes forever. Finally, I reemphasize that I have to get going. Gary and Christie show up. Want some coke. We all do a bump in Mike's room. They leave. I get a half from Mike for $17. Get out of there. 


Come home. Jennifer is pissed that I am over an hour late. I apologize and try to explain. We smooth things over. Talk for a while. I play some guitar. She eats some microwave pizza and spaghetti. We watch the Simpson's. After, she takes off to have a drink at Amanda's. I break out one of the quarters and do a line. Call Monte and agree to meet him on Thursday night. Do some more coke. Catch up with this. Time: 8:10 pm. 
Up at Hole in the Wall. Do lots of drugs. Get a half. Marcus, Jennifer and I in the office. Cab home with Marcus. Back to our place. Sit out back talking and doing drugs. Play checkers and Monopoly. Go to sleep around 6:00. Jennifer up a little later. Goes to buy beer at the corner store. 
6 - Mon - Ask Jennifer what time her appointment at Planned Parenthood is. She's asleep and tells me 5:15. 

Ride bike to meet Justin at 1:00 at Mojo's. We go to Trudy's for lunch. I have a burger. Talk about modern life in America. A good conversation with no subtext. Stay away from the personal. After, I go down to the Hole to do the mats. Get Brooks and Lee to move thier cars so that I can get the car out. Do the mats. Collect $50 from Brooks. Head home. Wake Jennifer. Discover that her appointment was actually at 3:15. We go to see "Wonder Boys" at Highland at 5:30. Pretty good. Reminded me of "American Beauty" in the ordinariness of its focus. Before the movie, we stop at Burger Tex to get a burger for Jennifer. She sneaks it into the movie. I end up eating half - on top of pocorn and chocolate almonds. 

Stay in tonight. Watching TV. 



7 - Tue - Mardi Gras. Mike calls all frantic about getting more lumber down to the Hole in the Wall. I finally show up at 1:30. Apologize. But want him to understand that I'm not on call and that he needs to depend more on himself. He apologizes for freaking out, says that Jeff, Debbie and Brooks have been on his case. Suggests doing some coke to set the day right again. We sit around a talk a while. Then drive his car over to Home Depot to get more 2X4X8s and some concrete screws. I get the run around trying to return the 2x8s. Mike's sleeping out in the car. We finally get out of there, drive it to the Hole. Unload. Jennifer works at Showdown 10 - 2
I ride up in the rain around 12:30. Get soaked. Read some of Koestler's "The Heel of Achilles" and "The God that Failed". Drink a fair number of beers. Help her close. We stop by I Love Video and rent "Anaconda" and "Father of the Bride II". We watch "Father of the Bride II". 


8 - Wed - Ash Wednesday. Get over to Mike's at 12:30. He's in a good mood. Help him to straighten his office up some more. 

After Hole in the Wall, stop in at Bill Miller's Barbeque for some lunch. Help Dave with the boat while Marcus dresses Mike's legs. We come inside, sit in Mike's room watching TV, doing drugs, talking about music and concerts. Dave kind of goes off on Marcus about getting surgery on his back. I get a quarter. Leave at 7:30. Drive carefully home. 
Jennifer works at Showdown 6 - 2 - she rode the bike up there. I head up there at 11:30. Tom Beach is there. He and I drink beer and catch up. Lisa gives Jennifer a break. Jennifer, Tom and I walk down to the Hole to do a shot. Mike's in the office and tells Jennifer to send me in. He and I sit in there and talk until Jennifer calls to remind me that it's 1:30, that I should come down and "bring something" if I wanted. I get another quarter. She had already got one earlier. Walk down to the Showdown and talk to Lisa while helping Jennifer to close. Tom is also there and we all take turns going in the office and doing drugs. We call Fred to take us home. Sit out back and talk about Lisa and her personality and then about sex until near dawn. 


9 - Thu - Wake up at 12:00. Get a ride from Sam down to Ruby's. Walk over to the Showdown and get the bike and car. Drive back home. Unload the bike for Jennifer. Head over to Mike's. I can tell that he's moving slow. I make myself a barbeque sandwich and read the entire paper while he works and falls into narcoleptic fits every minute or so. Feeling somewhat malevolent, I just let him work at this own pace, earning money as I read the paper. Shelly called and showed up a few minutes after. She had some accounting business. We all talked for a while. Shelly was very hyper and chatty. She left and Mike finally wrapped up his business. We drove in the Subaru down to the Hole, stopping along the way to buy two fire extinguishers for the back. Mike slept most of the way. Waking up a few times, asking me if I asked him some bizarre question or not. Arrived at the Hole in the Wall, had a burger. Talked to Jeff and Gary. Gary needed more wood for the back stage. Told him that I'd get it for him tomorrow around 1:00. I drove the car up to Showdown to park it. Called and left a message for Jennifer that the car was there. We took Mike's car. He drove, falling into sleep at every light. Stopped by a City of Austin office on Barton Springs to pick up a right of way permit for Todd's mural. Then up IH35 to the TWC and the IRS office. Mike fell asleep a few times while driving down the road at 65 mph. Finally I suggested that we stop and get a coke and candy bar. At the IRS office. I called Jennifer and told her that I wasn't going to do anymore today and was heading back to the Showdown. Mike drove me down there, dropped me off. I agreed to be at his place at 10 in the morning.


Called Jennifer and she said she was riding the bike down. Would pick us up something at New World Deli. While waiting for her, I read Clay Smith's Chronicle piece on Lynn. I was quoted several times. I thought I portrayed Lynn in a good light. A good pull quote. But who knows with him? I gave him a call, left a message. Jennifer showed up. She got a bottle of champagne. We sat out on the back porch, eating sandwiches, drinking and enjoying the beautiful day. Shelly showed up. They drank another bottle of champagne. I drank more beer. Eventually we walked down to the Hole. Sat a big table with Niki and Speedy, Cyrus and others. Jennnifer bought drinks for anyone that she knew that walked in the door. The Norton's were in good form. No cocaine anywhere - which was nice. Doug showed up. Mike said that he would be down there, but obivously decided to stay at home. Jennifer and I left around 10. Walked to the Showdown, had a beer. Called in a pizza at Pizza Hut delivery. Stopped at Wheatsville on the way home and bought some wine, cheese and salad. 

As soon as we pulled in the drive, Jennifer threw up in the driveway. We then got into a drunken argument. Ate some pizza, fell asleep. We both woke up at 2:00 am. Jennifer jacked me off. We went down to HEB and bought water, diet coke and some magazines. Came home. Jennifer watched "Emma" while I read. We eventually fell asleep at 5:00. 
10 - Fri - Wake up at 10:00. Consider going over to Mike's. But I'm tired and feeling under. Back to sleep. Wake up suddenly at 12:30. Dress quickly and head over to Mike's. Weird day. Electric atmosphere. When I get there, Mickey is there. I go in. Gary calls about the lumber for the back stage. Mike and Mickey are chatting up, so I offer to drive the truck over to Home Depot myself and deliver the wood. Mike's fine with this. He gives me a quick bump as I head out the door. So I drive his truck over. Get the lumber. Drive to the Hole in the Wall. Unlaod. Back over to Mike's. He's occupied with the payroll. So I hook up the trailer and drive out to the dump by myself. On the way, I stop by the room and say hello to Jennifer. Tell her I should be back in a couple of hours. Head out to the dump. Horrible traffic. Finally at dump. These places are always so surreal. Back to Mike's. More horrible traffic. At Mike's help Dave to back the trailer up beside the house. Then help him to back the boat up. Talk to Mike for a few minutes. He gives me a half for helping him out with everything. Drive home. Greg is at the house. Jennifer seems irritable. She's cleaned up the room and washed dishes. Greg headed down to the Hole and we go to have a couple of double lattes at Dolce Vita. The clouds above were formed into these beautiful billowing globes. Everyone was standing outside looking up. After the coffee, we dropped some videos off at Hollywood. Then drove over to Highland Mall to register at Foley's. We went through the hoops. Walked around for and hour or so scanning objects. left Foley's at 9:00. Went to HEB. Bought a bottle of wine to replace the one Jennifer drank of Sam's. Got a chicken and some tortillas for dinner. Came back to the room under skies full of lightning. Sat on the floor and ate while watching the last part of Seinfeld. Jennifer started working on her wedding planner. I did a line and started working on this. 


We go to the Pronto Mart for some beer. All around the neighborhood and all down Airport are cops with their lights on. I'm fairly coked up and glad that Jennifer is driving. When we get back, I work on this some more. Jennifer works on the guest list. Later, at 12, she tapes Iron Chef, a Japanese show on the Food Channel. 

Feel a strange pressure in my temples. Wonder if I have some sort of an imminent brain hemorrhage. Should probably stop doing all these drugs. "That's why they call it dope! Stupid!" Been having bad headaches after I cough. Something's got to give. 


19 - Sun - My 38th birthday. 


February 2000


1 - Tue - 
Sleep in until noon. Finally, a good night of sleep. Jennifer calls Amanda and is going to have lunch with her. I make Bookfestival calls to publishers and such. Play guitar. Amanda comes by to pick up Jennifer. I work for a while longer on printing a few more invoices. Drive out to UPS. Wait forever. Then they have to inspect every package because they are being audited. Finally get out. It's raining. Bad traffic on the way home. Jennifer is here when I get back. She had gone to Eastside Cafe. We make some soup and I have some of her leftovers - cornbread dressing, spinach and mushroom crepes, cornbread. Watch TV. She leaves for work at 5:30. I watch "The Red Violin" - which I enjoyed. The old storytelling device was delivered with a refreshing ambiguity. Eat some popcorn and chocolate almonds. Watch more TV. Jennifer calls a few times. Shower and shave. Finally rouse myself to go around 11:00 - but don't want to jog (I'd left the bike at the Showdown last night.) Called and cab and waited a while. Called back. Finally got down to the Showdown at 12. Had a couple of corned beef sandwiches with Jennifer. Some nachos. Talked to a drunken Jenn Daly for a while. Helped Jennifer close. Returned "Red Violin". Home and read "Gods, Graves" chapter on Champollion. 



2 - Wed - Up at 11. Make a few calls. Work on TBF invoices. Call and start new unemployment claim and reregister for work. Make smoothies for Jennifer and I. Jennifer drives me down to the office. We stop in and get a new registration sticker. Back at the room, make pasta and chicken. Watch "Bowfinger". Funny and clever satire of the lower Hollywood eschelons. Eat some popcorn and chocolate almonds. Jennifer goes to workout at Hyde Park before she works at the Showdown from 6 to 10. I work on Chronos Project - postcards from my mother and sister. At 9:30, I workout, jog for about 15 min. Jennifer comes home at 11:00. We watch TV? Go to sleep fairly early.??



3 - Thu - Wake up late, around 12. Talk to Dihana, who had called, about checks that need to be cut. Around 5:30 pm Jennifer goes to have a few drinks with Shelly and Nikki (Jennifer takes a piggy back down for Nikki.) at the Dog & Duck. She calls at 7:00, asks if I want to meet her at the Hole in the Wall for "one Norton's drink". I agree. Ride the bike down. Sit at a big table with Shelly, Nikki, Cyrus, Waldo, Jenn Daly, Flaco, Pam's boyfriend and a few rotating others. After a few beers, Jennifer asks if I want to go in on a half from C. I give her $20. She ends up working for a while behind the bar. I'm talkind to George Ragsdale about Mexico. Give Shelly the bag. She returns, gives me back the bag and asks if I will give Nikki a line before she has to go to work at Mango's. Nikki and I go to the bathroom, do a couple of lines. Jenn Daly invited me and Jennifer to dinner tomorrow night. We agree although I suspect that we will end up cancelling. Talk to her and Flaco for a while. The talk to Shelly. The Norton's take a break and half the table leaves to go out to the parking lot to smoke pot. Mike White comes in and Jennifer and I say hello, give him the burned leather Aztec Sun Calendar. After the Norton's finish and the next band is setting up, I head back to the back room and sit with Mike White, Marcos and Rick. End up talking about the elections, educations and a bit of literature. Get a half from ____. Jennifer comes back. She also got a quarter from ___. And there is a blur of time until it seems like it is about 1:30 am. After Jennifer watches the door for Dottie, we leave and I drive home. On the way, Jennifer wants to have a beer at the Showdown, so we stop in there. Jennifer borrows $10 from Gale. We leave Showdown and stop in at Nasty's. See Mike and Myra. Myra irritates Jennifer. Jennifer drinks my beer while I talk to Myra. We leave, stop by Mojo's, have coffee and make out a drunken qedding list. Head home. Sam isn't there. We stay up playing monopoly, drinking beer we had bought on New Year's, and doing lines of Coke. The dice roll against me and Jennifer cuts me slack so that I'll keep playing. Finally, I give up. Jennifer, all coked up, wants me to play one game of checkers. We open up a bottle of champagne. Drink and do the last of the drugs. We quit playing games around 8:00 am. Start trying to fuck but both are too wasted. I try to go to sleep but Jennifer gets upset about Myra and Nasty's. We argue. Jennifer pulls her comforter onto the floor and passes out around 9:30.



4 - Fri - Amanda and Greg came by at noon, tried to wake us up. Told them we were up until 9:30 am, that we'd call them later. Got Jennifer off of the floor and back into bed. Slept until 3:30 pm. Woke up hung over, almost too nauseous to even stand and pee. Head stopped up with post-cocaine stuffiness, my nerves shaky and my heart seeming to beat erratically. Jennifer and I aren't speaking to each other yet. She makes a bowl of soup but after a mouthful leaves it and returns to bed. I get up and make a bowl of Malt-O-Meal. Take a vitamin. Greg and Amanda call. I go up to the Corner Store and buy a couple of bananas for smoothies. Return and make Jennifer a smoothie. The same argument from the night before returns. We get into a mean argument about nothing, each of too stubborn and hung-over to stop. At one point, Jennifer throws a pint glass of water across the room, shattering glass everywhere. Then she throws the blender pitcher, plastic and banana smoothie everywhere. She starts to throw the piggy bank, but I stop here. Get the broom and clean up all the glass. She cries under the covers. Nothing seems to get better. I sit and wonder why I am so mad. Why I am so unwilling to go apologize. Every up of the drug the night before has now been balanced with a down. Just not worth it. Finally, Jennifer comes over to me and sits in my lap. We end up on the bed fucking for the first time in weeks. It feels so good I wonder why whe don't fuck every other hour of every day. She comes for a long time. I come about a gallon. After, I lay on the bed exhausted and free of every weight that had been laoded on my soul. We take a shower together. Shelly calls about going to see the American Legion Hall as a possible place for marriage and reception. We decide to go get pizza first at Cici's. Collect every penny we have. Even try to raid the piggy bank. Finally, with just enough, we head over. About one slice into it, I look around at all the sad overweight people surrounding us, and wish that we'd just gone to the store and bought something healthy. Jennifer goes over to Amanda's to hang out with Greg before he went back down to the ranch. I try to write or read but still feel like all my concentration is shot. End up just laying in bed watching 20 channels at once, wondering why I wasted and entire day. Jennifer comes back at 8:30. We lay around watching Miss USA sinking ever deeper into the hole. She had borrowed $19.00 from Amanda. We went down to HEB and got what we needed for sandwiches, came home, made sandwiches on the bed and watched "The Mummy" with Christopher Lee. Got tired of watching. Jennifer fell asleep. I read more of Champollion's adventures in "Gods, Graves & Scholars". To sleep at 2:00. 



5 - Sat - Up at 1:30 pm. Jennifer wakes up in a good mood. Makes coffee and turkey and cheese sandwiches with vegetable pasta soup. We watch "Fun in Acapulco" - an Elvis movie. Fairly amusing having just returned from Mexico. Just before the film, AMC showed a short about the "Flying Dancers" of Papantla. Strange coincedence. Got bored of the Elvis film about halfway through. Started to write and then got frustrated with the CD player which didn't work. Tried to fix it with no success. Jennifer left to go pick up a royalty check from Tower for "Unplug This". Cleaned up the room. Started to work on this. Start on drawing the "Sacrifice Victim from the Dresen Codex". Listening to TV Discovery Channel in the background. Jennifer comes back. We go to HEB and buy $15 worth of groceries. I make some green tea. Later, I take her to hear the Wannabes at Babe's at 11:00. Return to room, draw more. Jennifer comes back drunk around 2:45. Julie, who brought here home, is throwing up in the backyard. Julie leaves. Jennifer makes French Fries. I have some chips and hot sauce. We watch "American Pie". Mindlessly amusing. I am depressed and irritable towards Jennifer. Go to sleep at 5:00 after reading about Edward Thompson and the dredging of the Sacred Well at Chichen Itza.



6 - Sun - Up at 3:00 pm. A little under the weather, cough and stuffy nose. My body feels like the effects of gout are returning. Make coffee. Jennifer makes toast. We watch TV. Jennifer goes to work out at 5:00. I write. Then watch Simpson's at 5:30, Futurama at 6:00. Make some spaghetti with butter and garlic, eat some peanuts and pretzels. Call Lynn and tell him that I don't feel like going out with he and Trey. He tells me more about his conversation with the CEO of Bookpeople, about if I wanted to work there. I tell him that I can't see going back into the bookstore business. Watch King of the Hill and then the Simpson's at 7:00. Jennifer calls from the Showdown with Shelly, says she'll be out until 9:00 - trying to get some Vicodin for Lee Daniels before he leave on a trip. She comes back early. Then she and I decide to go up to the Hole in the Wall to meet Lee and get a couple of drinks. We only have a few dollars, but he should give Jennifer some money for the drugs. At the Hole, run into Jen Daly and her brother. Talk to them for a while. Turns out the dinner party we supposed to go to the other day ended up having about 40 people show up. The band comes on early because of the Free for All, so we head back to the back table. Jennifer is already there with Murphy. Talk for a while. Jenn and her brother are getting obnoxious. I'm about ready to leave. Finally, Lee shows up. We get a couple of more beers. Murphy orders a round of shots - even though he can barely keep his eyes open. Lee and I talk a little about Bunel and Mexican cinema. Jennifer and I leave around 11 pm. We stop by Hollywood Video and rent "Great Expectations" with Paltrow and "The Game" by David Fincher, who directed "The Fight Club" and "Seven". We watch "The Game", which is better than either of us expected even though it has Michael Douglas in it. Resonates with many of the elements of "The Fight Club" - questions of what is real and boundaries of acting. 



7 - Mon - Slept until 3:00 pm. Amanda came by to pick up Jennifer. Amanda and Jennifer went out, had a bottle of wine at Spiderhouse, then went to Dog & Duck. I stayed in to draw. Jennifer called me. We agreed to meet at the Hole in the Wall for a beer or two. I drove down there. DD Wallice was playing. Sat with Keith. Talked to Amanda about poetry and Moby Dick, the title of her mother's new book. (I thought "The Darker Ribbon" sounded too romance.) Jennifer got a little coke from ___. After the band played, we all went in back to play pool. I went to the bathroom to do the rest of the bag, just a couple of bumps. Played some pool with Amanda, Jennifer and a guy named Dan(?). We were out of money, but Jennifer kept scamming beers from one person or another. She also got a decent sized rock of coke, which we did some of in the Women's bathroom with Cindy. Played some more pool. I talked with Dan about the internet and such. He works for Deja.com. Jennifer and I did the rest of the coke. Amanda split. Jennifer got another rock of coke - all for free. We left and I drove home. We sat out on the back porch, drinking Lone Star and talking about the wedding. Jennifer was smoking Winston's. We did the rest of the coke. I was tired of sitting outside and came in. Jennifer stayed outside, smoking an old pack of Winston's and writing. Finally she came in. I was trying to go to sleep. We went through the typical drunk coked up argument discussion. I was feeling depressed. Ended up fucking until 7:00 in the morning. 


8 - Tue - Woke up at 2:30. Rushed down to the American Legion Hall to see how it would do for our wedding and reception. Came back and laid around in bed, watching TV. Jennifer gives me head on the unmade bed. We watched the first part of "Great Expectations". Jennifer talked to her Mother and Father about he wedding. Her Mother and Tom said that they's be willing to contribute 3,000. Her father said that he's go half. Jennifer worked from 11 until 2 at the Hole in the Wall. I draw the Lord of the Dead, listen to a James Dean documentary, some of "Giant". After she got home, I went to HEB and bought stuff for cheese and tomato sandwiches, chips, salsa, some magaziens. Came home and we ate and watched the History Channel's "Year by Year: 1967". I read some out of the book about "The March of Time", the recent Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly. Got to sleep at 7:00 am.



9 - Wed - Woke up at 4:00 pm. Had a dream about Sam coming in to tell me the Pilar and Bishop had been murdered by Shannon. Sam wouldn't tell me until he made sure that Jennifer was here. Perhaps because I knew that this wasn't true, I woke up in a good mood. Strange coincedence: Pilar had left a message on call notes. 
Made some coffee. Jennifer called Shelly and we went to Flightpath to have a couple of double lattes and talk to Shelly about the wedding. Returned to the room around 5:30. I make a cheese sandwich. Jennifer made some toast. Watched the end of "Great Expectations" - an interesting adaption that made me want to go back and read the original. Still don't care for Paltrow, something too Waspish about her. Caught the last part of the Simpson's - the Hawking episode. Jennifer goes to do laundry and work out. I work on the Mayan Series of drawings, contemplating using Mictlantecuhtli on the front of the wedding invitations. Jennifer returns with the laundry, upset by Michele's bitchiness at the Showdown - where she had stopped for a beer. We decide to go out and have a drink, work on the wedding invitation list. Borrow $20 from Sam in the form of a check. Go to the Hole to cash the check and have a Corona. From Hole to Showdown, where we make the list. Michele is of no consequence. Head back to the Hole, then decide to go to the Dog & Duck. Run into Shermakaye, talk to her a while about FringeWare, the wedding and the Yogurt Shop murders. Brent Grulke comes in. I end up talking to him about Richard Dorset, then books and book culture, Mexico and Spain. Jennifer, who hadn't eaten all day, was pretty drunk. We return to the room just before two. Make Quesadillas and sandwiches. Jennifer wants to cut my quesadilla in half. I don't want it cut in half - me not understanding that she wants to trade half of her sandwich with me. She gets upset. I get upset. We argue drunkenly for a while. I try to go to sleep. She cries and throws her engagement ring on the floor. I try to apologize but only sound mean and uncaring. She throws a platefull of food out the door, shattering it on the sidewalk. We argue more. Debate if we want to get married or not. End up reconciling, laughing, wrestling on the bed. This is around 5 in the morning. I lay there for a while thinking back to my days when I raised rats and mice at UTD: if the cage is too small, they will eat each other to survive. Perhaps it is time to move.



10 - Thu - Woke up a little hungover at 10:00 am. Decided to stay up and try to get my schedule back on track. Worked on the Mayan drawings. Tried to piece together the last few days for this chronology. Jennnifer woke up at 12. Feeling very broke. Jennifer stops and helps Amanda's roomate's Mother fix a flat. Jennifer goes over to Amanda's to shop and prepare dinner. I ride the bike over around 7:30. Shrimp enchiladas, rice and beans. Dinner at Amanda's. You just got too comfortable. "Scream 3". 


11 - Fri - Call parents about wedding and coming up to Dallas. Go to Hole at 7:00 for Happy Hour, sit with Chip and Al. Talk to George. Buy a half. Go to Dog & Duck. Sit with Janet, Julie, Hunter. Drive Janet home. 



12 - Sat - Wake up hungover. Sick. Hating these patterns of emptiness. Watch "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" in the afternoon. Watch "Runaway Bride" at night. 



13 - Sun - Jennifer leaves at 5:30 to work out. Watch Simpson's, Futurama, Simpson's. Read Sleepwalkers. Out with Lynn at 8:30 until 11:30. Hole Jennifer, Rick and Shelly. Stop by HEB, buy ingredients for queso. Make queso, watch cable, read the paper. Start to watch "Thomas Crown" but too tired. Jennifer stays up for a while, smoking and writing. Go to sleep at 3:00. 



14 - Mon - Wake at 6:00 am. Read more of the "Watershed". Also reread the chapter "Harmony of the Worlds" is Sagan's Cosmos. And peruse God's Laughter. Reluctantly stop reading at 9:00 to get dressed and head down to the Hole in the Wall to clean the bar mats and the floor. Takes about 2 hours to clean the muck off that foul floor and even then it is still a stye. Much contemplation about how I am to earn my living. And there is something redemptive or cathartic in working at such a low task. Drive home and take a long hot shower. Jennifer is awake. We decide to go see "The Talented Mr. Ripley" at the Highland, which starts at 12:40. Jesus: $13.50 for popcorn, drinks and nachos. Both of us lose patience with the length of the film and the irresolution of the ending. There are some interesting issues concerning identity. And the evocation of a 1950s Italy is masterful. Returning to the room, I try to work on the most recent drawing from the Ball Game but Jennifer is feeling low and wants attention. I end up falling asleep until 8:00 pm, when Jennifer wakes me up with a Valentine dinner of chicken, black beans, rice, avocado, tomato, salsa, queso and tortillas. After dinner I wash the dishes and clean up the kitchen. Talk to mother about wedding and Dallas. We watch the remake of "The Thomas Crown Affair", find it interesting but damaged by creepy unerotic love scenes. It seems like some sort of middle aged woman's fantasy film. We drink a couple of glasses of good red wine, make a couple of chicken sandwiches and then watch, "Run, Lola, Run", a german film. Again interesting, but little more than a music video in long form. So much more could have been done with the narrative device. Go to sleep at 3:30 am. Windows open and stars in the sky.



15 - Tue - Wake up at 8:00 am. Read some more of the "Watershed" from Sleepwalkers, dealing with aspects of Kepler's dark later years. Dress and leave at 9:15 for the TBF office. Drive around looking for a place to park. Arrive at 9:30. No one there. Call from payphone and leave irritated message. Drive to Spiderhouse. Meet Clay Smith from the Chronicle. He interviews me for articles about Lynn Bender and David Hamrick. Finish at 10:15. Get a tenative agreement to submit book reviews to him. Drive to Kinko's, make a few color copies of the "Sacrifice Victim", b&w of "Lord of Death". Drive to Dreamer's, rent a few videos. Home around noon. Check messages and return a call from the Texas Workforce Commission regarding my unemployment claim and work for the TBF. Jennifer is still asleep. Sit on the back porch and eat queso and chips, read the Chronicle. After lunch, reassemble the Rapidograph pens. Jennifer goes over to Rick and Shelley's house on the Eastside to help paint for a couple of hours. She returns. I was taking a nap. She then went up to the Pawn Shop and bought me a $35 bike. She returns. Goes to get one of the wheels repaired. I am delighted she bought me a bike. But I'm irritable with her and apologize, saying I just need to get some more sleep. She takes off again.... to work out and possible meet me at the Hole around 10. I try to ride the newe bike up there but the chain keeps falling off, so I turn around for the other one. I ride up the the Hole in the Wall around 11. Listen to music for a while, Ted Roddy. Go in back and talk to Jennifer and Nikki. Collect $60 from Jeff for the floors. End up in the office with Mike White. End up getting half. Sat in the office getting wired with Mike, talking about the Mexican trip and the idea for an oral history of the Hole in the Wall. Came out around 2:00. Waited for Jennifer to finish helping. Sat in back with Lawrence and Trevor discussing various aspects of hell. At the room, we play checkers and pente and do the rest of the drugs. 



16 - Wed - Up at 10. Read Sleepwalkers, Gates of the Alamo. 
Watch part III of a Scorcese documentary about american film. Call Pilar, talk briefly. Fall asleep at 9:30. Sleep restlessly, sweating, until 2:30. Jennifer makes a bowl of red beans and rice with corn tortillas. Watch some TV. Then read more of The Gates of the Alamo. Fall asleep around 3:30. 



17 - Thu - Wake up at 8. Read more of the Sleepwalkers, the Trial of Galileo, which is slow going for me. Little more of The Gates of the Alamo
. Some of the Act of Creation, the appendix on genius. Gather together some change for parking meters and coffee. Head down to TBF office, pick up all the invoice and talk little with Cyndi. Another beautiful blue sky day. Drive to Spiderhouse and drink a latte while catching up with Mexican Journal. Head back to the room at noon. Call Southwestern Bell about connecting Internet Service. Jennifer is still asleep. I make a big breakfast of fried eggs on top of corn torillas and red beans with bacon and french fried potatoes. Jennifer wakes up to eat with me. Afterwards, I clean up the kitchen. 

Work on a letter to Shelton. The mail comes with an unemployment check for $430. We drive down to HEB to cash it, end up buying $95 worth of groceries. Back to the room: 4:30. Jennifer goes to work out. I print out letter to Shelton with some Mayan Drawings and write a letter to Pilar, also with Mayan drawings. Jennifer comes home, takes cameras to HEB to get film developed. Jennifer's mother calls. I make some strong Ruta Maya coffee. 
Go for a short run, about 1 1/2 miles. Even though I am woefully out of shape, this brief bit of exercise clears out my mind. I resolve to keep building on this, to discipline myself to physical exercise at least every other day. 
Return, shower. Jennifer is talking to her sister, Stephanie. Afterwards, we drive up to the Hole in the Wall. Norton's are going strong. Sit with the usual crowd: Nikki, Shelly, Trevor, Cyrus, Pam and her boyfriend. Talked with the last two about Mexico - they had just returned also. Also talk to Cyrus about work on buidling waterfalls. Shelly passed me some coke. Went to the bathroom and did two big lines. Later, Shelly and Jennifer and I walked down to the Showdown to see Rick. Sat with them for a while. 

Jennifer and I went back to the Hole. Have a discussion out front about if we go back in for one beer, we are going to get a half. She just wants the beer. I want the half. We go in. I went into the office and talked with Mike while Jennifer covered shifts for Debbie and Jeff. Mike and did a substantial amount of drugs. Bought a half. Good conversation about the current and past state of the bar, making me again think that I needed to have a tape recorder. Finally, around 3 am, we got out of there. Stopped at Mojo's for some American Spirits for Jennifer. Once home, we sat out on the back porch and had the usual coaine fueled conversation, played checkers and pente, drank Tecates with lime. Came inside every so often to do another line. I couldn't win to save my life. Jennifer did the sweet trick where she hid a couple of lines. Played some more games. Did a little of Polar Bear Snuff. Finally came inside as the dawn was breaking. Messed around for a little while then just passed into a fevered sleep around 9 am. 


18 - Fri - Restless hungover sleep. Dreams filled with intimations of mortality. Wake up at 11. Read Gates of the Alamo, some of Sleepwalkers. At 1:30 drive over to the American Legion Hall to pay the deposit ($150) to reserve the space for the 5th of May for our wedding. Drive home. Heat up a can of Cambell's chicken with broccoli and cheese soup for lunch. Sprinkle it liberally with Tabasco. Compliment it all with a half a loaf of La Madeline sourdough bread and some rich Boarshead cheddar cheese. Eat in front of the TV, watching CNN. 

Read for a few more hours. Peruse through George Nelson's book on the Alamo, finding it just as elementary as before, and Maps of the Southwest, noting in particular Austin's Map of Texas. 

The Nelson book however did get me thinking again about writing a short history of South Padre, as Nelson told me that he would sell hundreds in front of the Alamo to the tourists. Also the Oral History of the Hole in the Wall. 
Jennifer wakes up at 3. Watch TV for a little while. The she goes to the Hoffbrau House for steaks with Rachel and Al. I read some more, watch the Simpson's. She returns home. Greg calls. Jennifer takes him down to the Hole in the Wall. I watch TV, more Simpson's, Saturday Night Live reruns. Jennifer comes back. Tells me about going by the Showdown and how Justin and Michelle were cold and rude to her. When confronted Michelle sid something about how the problem was unresolvable and that she didn't want to talk about it. Justin was just cool, asking where I was and then retreating to wash glasses. Still can't figure that one out. Fall asleep around 9:30. Very tired. 



19 - Sat - Up at 7 am. Cool morning. Read Gates of the Alamo while staying warm under the covers. 
Harrigan's language has developed impressively, not as obtruse as McCarthy (while there seems to be influence), but conveying through antiquated terms (historical signifiers / naming the rose) a strong sense of history. It would be interesting to write an essay on the development of his vocabulary and grammar as traced through his three novels. While I have a tremendous admiration for Jacob's Well and Aransas, that latter in particular, Gates is definately a watershed for him. My reading of the book is propelled, at this point, by a hunger to see how he handles the climactic moment of the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. 

Drive over to the Eastside to Juan in a Milllion for breakfast: migas with fajitas, potatoes and frijoles, salsa and fresh coffee. Read the current edition of the Chronicle. Return the now late vidoes to Dreamer's. Back in the room, try to call Mike White. No answer. Call Jerry and tell him that we will be in later. Get a hold of Mike at the Hole, says he wants to meet at noon. Weighing options, I say fine. Make a pot of Ruta Maya coffee, wash some dishes. Mike calls again and wants to meet even later. Again, I agree. Even though Jennifer and I are supposed to drive to Dallas for the day. Why do I have such a reluctance to see my mother and stepfather? And I don't believe that this is particular. More and more these days, I don't wish to see, meet, converse with anyone outside of the fragmented and distracted environment of a noisy bar - with, of course, the alcohol as social lubricant. 


I call Jerry and explain, not untruthfully, that I need to stay in town to work and that it would be better for us to come up to Dallas next weekend. He says that it will be no problem. I spend an hour or so working on this journal, trying to enrich it somewhat. Then I work on the several days abandonded "Sacrifice in the Ball Court" for the Mayan series. I make the backround black, which brings the complex image out in startling detail and covers up many of my errors. Around 2, I realize that I am losing concentration and making more mistakes, so I put the drawing aside. I go outside and clean up the broken plate from a week ago and the checkers and pente games, the limes and empty tecae cans; also clearing off a lot of the leaves to establish a place to work out. I come back in, the phone rings. I deal with some illiterate woman from the credit card company. Mike calls soon after and we agree to meet at the Hole at 3:30 - in about 30 minutes. Jennifer wakes up and I make a fresh pot of Ruta Maya for her. She warms up the leftovers that I had brought home from Juan in a Million. I eat a little cheese and heat up some of the sourdough bread to soften it. I also have a few frozen grapes before taking off. 

At the Hole, I meet Jeff on the way in - just waking up. With the grumbling help of big Eric and some ex-con names Terry, we clear the back area for the new bar. The biggest labour is moving a big beer box in, which we do most of the way with a roller dolly. But at the stairs leading down to the back, we lift it up. I get one end entirely, straining my right arm somewhat. But we get it back there. Move around a few more things to create the idea of a bar. And leave it at that until later. I go up to the front bar and talk to Nikki, who had stopped in before she headed down to Mangos to work. Drink a Dos XXs. Mike eventually comes back around followed by Two Brains Bob, who is yammering on about something. As we all sit at the bar, Two Brains turns his attention on me, asking if I'm still going out with the same "chick". I tell him yeah and that we are even getting married. This launches him into a prolonged one sided discussion about how "broads" like Jennifer are "centered within their empowerment" and, while they may "fuck whoever hits hard on them" are still mostly "immune" to the advances of the "ordinary asshole". Gale, out of sympathy, buys me a shot of Beam. I get another Dos XXs. Bob goes on and on and on, with me not getting a work in edgewise. Finally, Mike calls me back to the office to work and I slowly disengage with him still talking to me. 
In the office, Mike start out slowly, talking about Bob, doing a couple of bumps. Mike gives me the overall plan of cleaning the place up. We get started. Me: moving boxes and taking things out to his car or to the storeroom in back. Him: sitting in his chair, rolling around to look at the contents of various boxes, etc. Moved a lot of free posters, old gifts, promo t-shirts, party decorations to the back. And tried to organize the myriad of receipts and papers into labeled boxes. After working for a couple of hours, we decided to call it quits for the day. Sat and talked some more about the history of the place - specifically, the drawing that Todd used to make of the long time regulars for the place. Got another Dos XXs for me and a Cuba Libra for Mike, did few more bumps. Jennifer called and said that she wanted to go work out but need to car by 7:00. I told her that I'd try to make it. But Mike, naturally, carried on for a while. And on the way out, I ran into Greg and talked with him for a few minutes. Jeff also asked me to ask Jennifer if she wanted to work. 

By the time I got home, it was 7:20. Jennifer was talking to Chaney on the phone. I was dead tired, surprisingly so because I really hadn't done that much work. I figured that my natural rythms must be off. I was also thirsty and drank down about 4 pints of water. Jennifer was restless and fiesty, but I was too tired to make her happy. She called and agreed to work, left at 9. I went straight to sleep, sleeping deep until she returned at 4:30. Said she made $120. I woke up for a little while to talk to her while she ate a small salad and some pasta. She was a little drunk and told me twice and amusing story of Greg and Trevor found sleeping in back and how she gave the waitress, Amelia, $20 to take them home and let them stay with her. But, she added, I told Amelia that if she or her roommate ended up geting fucked, they had to return the $20. I fell back to sleep as she was watching "El Mariachi". 


20 - Sun - Woke up at 8 from very intense dreams. A sci-fi world. There was this underground criminal organization run by a super computer. I was part of a counter group, not necessarily the law. We had broken into the offices of the organization. But they had anticipated us and there was a trap. The entire building was gassed. The super computer was giving instructions to the members of the organizations on how to survive, telling them to hide and stand on their heads before the anchors arrived. The anchors filled all of us with terror and dread. I ran down, trying to make it to an exit, but ended up ducking into an office. I was laying on the ground in a fetal position, breathing hot into my hands. I thought the standing on the head intruct was another trick. I could hear the anchors approaching, shooting machine guns, screams of people as they were shot. Then I woke, realized that I was sleeping in the same position as I had been in in the dream. There was a bird outside that made a ratchety noise before it whistled, doing this over and over. This was what I had heard in the dream.


I remained in bed, repeating the mantra for a moment, centering, planning aspects of the day. Then I got up and dressed. Made a pot of Ruta Maya and started writing the Journal. It is now 9:35. 
One of the goals that I am trying to accomplish is to balance the day, almost to a monastic degree. If I could write for 2 hours, read for 2 hours, draw for 2 hours, exercise for an hour, play guitar for an hour, that would be ideal. And it doesn't seem too difficult to set aside 8 free hours. Part of elaborating this journal is to reinforce the discipline of mindfulness. 

A few objectives that I want to meet this week: 
Physically: run at least 1 mile everyday, preferable alternating 1 and 2 mile runs. Workout every other day, starting today: stretch, dumbells. Moderate drink & drugs. 
Intellectually:
Reading: Complete Gates of the Alamo, rest of Sleepwalkers, more of Real Presences. Start Act of Creation again. Reread Mindtools. 
Drawing: Complete "Ball Court", start next in series. 
Writing: Maintain Chronos Journal, start Mexican Journal, work on Bone Carver 5 & 6. Letters to Shelton, Pilar, Kelly, Mom & Jerry, Sheila & Tom. Wedding Invitations and vows. 
Memory: return to the old memory book and re-memorize poems. 
Spiritually: Start on reread of Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism and Inner Structure of the I-Ching. 
Financially: Work with Rick & Shelly, try to get something going with Clay and the Chronicle, check with Cyrus again, work at the Hole (maybe door?), place ad to sell Cargo couch. Settle up with the bank. Work on report for Book Festival. 


21 - Mon - 9:30. Down to Hole to do mats. Deal with Debbie in the morning. Do laundry. Run for 1.5 miles. Start to watch 13th Warrior. Greg calls, need ride to get glasses. I agree. Meet him and Al at the Hole. Go up to Lenscrafters in Highland Mall. Greg takes us to lunch at Papasito's. Stop by room, wake up Jennifer. All head down to the Hole. Watch Simpson's, couple of beers. Too full to drink. Jennifer and I go to see "Galaxyquest" at Tinseltown North. Back to room. I'm tired and go to sleep at 12. Jennifer is restless. Goes down to the Hole in her nightgown and robe. Drinks and does drugs down there until 4:30. Back here, she sits in the car smoking and listening to tapes until late.



22 - Tue - Over to Mike's, clean up his yard some, help with sorting files. Two Brains Bob shows up. We do some drugs. Drive to Hole for blank checks, TABC, Sam's up north, Office Depot. Left the car at the Hole. Jennifer picks it up to go workout while I'm helping Mike. Back to Hole, unload stuff. Have a beer. Talk to Mike in the office. Do some drugs. Talk to Shelly and Nikki. Shelly wants me to go with her up to the Showdown to meet Rick. she gives me a bag with about an 1/8th. At the Showdown, run into Andy and Michelle. I talk to her with drunken irony. Jennifer arrives about 8. We hang out there for a while, head back down to Hole. Decide to go to Rita's Bogey night. Drive over, more drinks, drugs for me. Talk to a bunch of old regulars, Keith, Todd, Cyrus. Big thunderstorm breaks while we are there. After it passes, we leave. Back to the Hole. Drinks and drugs. Talk with Gary Coffee and Greg. Get very drunk. But a 1/4. Make Jennifer take me home around 1:00. Pass out. Jennifer stays up drinking a bottle of wine and smoking ciggarettes on the back porch, draws a burned cork face on the concrete. 



23 - Wed - Shaking hungover awake at 11. Jennifer wakes a little with me, tells me that she's checking the messages in case Greg needs his money, that Mike left a message saying to come by around 12:30. Jennifer and I horse around on the bed for a while. She tells me that I woke up drunk. I decide to make some cornbread, adding a can of sweet corn and a cup of cheddar cheese to the mix. Lay down and doze while it's cooking. Have a couple of pieces of cornbread to settle my stomach. Couple of asprin. Procranstinate for a while and finally get over to Mike's at 1:30.

Call out and walk in. He's crashed out, snoring in his chair. I shake him some and call out his name. He wakes like an explosion. We chat for a few minutes about the night before, laughing that, for once, I was drunker that Jennifer. he tells me a funny story about Two Brains Bob video taping Cyrus and kickng him off of his land. I help him to wrap his legs, which don't look good. He'd left his car at the Hole in the Wall last night, so I drove. We head over to Office Depo for some file boxes. Then to the IRS to collect a bunch of forms (3 of every one) for him. Then down to the Hole. Jeff and Gary are in back repainting the ceiling, filling bar with fumes. Working on my hangover. Regardless, Mike offers to buy lunch. I sit with him and have a cheese burger and fries. Greg comes in and we talk. He gives me his number in Dallas. Then we head into the office and start straightening and sorting through the accumulation of the last 20 years. We take a couple of breaks to do some coke. At one point Jeff comes in to buy some for Gary. We talk about how bad the fumes must be for brain cells. Jeff just sort of looks at us stupidly. We laugh. Do more drugs. Jeff borrows the car to go get paint. Jennifer calls and reminds me that she need to be at the Showdown by 6. I tell her that I'll come pick her up. But then remember that Jeff has the car. Mike says that he'll pay for a cab and I let her know. At 6:30 Debbie come in, looks around and starts to rip into Mike. I leave, heading down to the Showdown to see Jennifer. Have a Diet Coke at the Showdown. Head back down to the Hole at 7. Mike is sitting with Cyrus and another regular. Mike buys me a beer. I listen to the band, which is good. But I'm tired of the place and leave, drive the car around to the Showdown, talk to Jennifer for a minute and come home. 

As I walk in, Sam's watching the final moment of Robbie Knieval's motorcycle jump over a train. We lament the decline of Western Civilisation. Back in the room, I watch a little cable. Eat a couple of slices of cornbread. Try, unsuccessfully, to get online though Southwestern Bell. Call my parents. Talk a little about the wedding, agree to come up there on Saturday. Watch some more TV: Grammy's, news, David Letterman, play guitar. Drive down to the Showdown at 11:30. The place is busy. I help clear tables and do some dishes. Justin and Michelle, Teddy and the Mojo's crowd show up. I greet them like there is no problem. They go out back. After a while, I go sit with Justin, give he and Michelle the Zapatista Doll that Jennifer and I got for them in Mexico. Kill them with kindness. Catch up some with Justin, conversations with a tense subtext. Go back inside and pay attention to Jennifer, helping her cleaning dishes, clearing tables. We get out of there relatively early at 2:30. 


Once home, we eat some fajitas that Amanda had brought for Jennifer, channel surf, talk about the issues with Justin and Michelle. Crawl into bed and watch bad music videos until 3:30. 


24 - Thu - Up at noon. Work some more on trying to get connected to Southwestern Bell Internet. Wait 20 minutes on the phone for a tech support that is no help. Decide to make some buttermilk cornbread. A pot of Ruta Maya coffee. Clean up the kitchen. Talk to Sam a bit about his new job at Twin Liquors. Come back in room at 2:20, work on chronology. 


Erica from Ingram calls to say that the Book Festival has a credit of 2800.00. I call Cyndi and leave a message. Jennifer wakes up at 3. Make another pot of coffee. She calls Shelly. I agree to work tomorrow at the house they are trying to close on. Jennifer is going to work for Rick 10 to 6 at the Showdown tomorrow. Talk to Jaqueline at the bookfest, letting her know what's going on with Ingram. 


25 - Fri - Up at 9. Drive to Showdown. Help Jennifer open. Go next door to Kerbey to eat breakfast: migas. Get a migas taco for Jennifer. Home. Call Shelly. Tell her I'll be over in an hour or so. Watch porn with poppers. Jack-off for a long time, doing a lot of poppers. Almost insane when I finally cum. Drive over to the house on the East Side. Paint trim with Shelly and Nikki. Drink a few beers. Drive to Showdown to give Jennifer the car. She comes down to the Hole for a little while. End up staying until pretty late: 1:00. Drugs and more drinks. Mike comes in a pays me. We had got a half from Chip. Got another quarter from Mike. Drive home. Sit out on the back porch. Amanda shows up with her dog. Sam joins us in back for a while. Around 1:30, everyone leaves. We watch TV for a while. Then I pass out. Jennifer wakes me up around dawn, all freaked out. We end up fucking for a while in the blue light of morning. 



26 - Sat - Wake up at 1:00. Call parents and tell them we are going to be late. Cash the wedding dress check from Jennifer's mom at the Showdown. Eat lunch at New World Deli. Leave for Dallas at 2:00. Stop for at Cowboy's Bar-B-Que for sliced brisket sandwich and a sausage wrap on the way. Buy a bottle of sauce. Arrive at 5:30. Talk and catch up in the kitchen. Get Marco's Pizza at 7:30. Eat. Watch "Double Jeopardy". Eat a midnight ham sandwich. Get to sleep around 3:00



27 - Sun - Wake up at 10. Stumble back to my mother's dressing room. Talk to her about the wedding, etc. Come up to the kitchen. Jennifer is awake. Sit and stand in the kitchen talking with Jerry about business and computers. They are going to buy me an iMac for my birthday. Walk the dogs around EDS. It's like dragging corpses. Leave to return to Austin around 5:00. Stop at Turkey Shop for good chicken fried steak. Arrive. Unload. Go to HEB. I go see "Pitch Black" - the most Burroughsian sci-fi film I've seen in a while. Drive home. Talk to Jennifer. Sleep.



28 - Mon - Wake up around noon. Good sleep. Strangely exhausted from the Dallas ordeal. Make some coffee. Call Cyndi and let her know that Thursday at Gilligan's at 12:30 is fine. Watch some TV. Made a couple of ham sandwiches. Jennifer wakes up. Calls the American Legion Hall about coming down and taking a look again. We go down there at 3:00. Look around. Decide that the place was bigger and better than we had thought. Drive over to Bookpeople. Realize that I had forgotten to do the mats at the Hole today. Look at wedding books while drinking coffee in the new LIttle City cafe. Buy a few magazines. Make it back home just before rush hour. Shelly calls and wants to get something to eat and have a drink. Jennifer agrees to meet her over at Fonda San Miguel's. I stay in the room. Watch TV. Read. Eat some ham and cheese. Watch pornos for a while while doing poppers. Good orgasm. Take a shower. Read for a while longer. Watch TV. More porn. Another orgasm. Lynn calls, says he's coming over to take me down to the Showdown. Jennifer calls about 9:00 to say that she's at the Hole. Won't be there much longer. Might wait for me. Lynn arrives. We go to the Showdown. Tell him how the interview with Clay went. Go to Showdown. Jordan comps us a couple of beers. Talk to Lynn. Run down to the Hole to see if Jennifer is still there. She's gone. Back to Showdown. Go with Lynn to Star Seeds. Get a cheeseburger and fries. He takes me home. 

Get home and Amanda is there with Jennifer - who is fairly drunk. Amaanda leaves. This is around 12:00. Jennifer tells me about getting stopped by the cop for no tail light. Jennifer drinks more wine and gets more drunk. We spend the next few hours in a frustrating back and forth of indecision. Finally, I drive down to the Jack in the Box by HEB. We get chicken tenders, hamburger, chicken burger, fries and onion rings with cokes. Jennifer tips the guy at the window. Come home. Microwave the food. Argue. I eat too much and feel like I'm going to die. Jennifer takes care of me for a long time, soothing me and caressing me. 



29 - Tue - Wake up late. I dreamed that my jaw was broken. And at one point I heard Jennifer say something about having another drink and incorporated it into my dream. Startled me so much that I woke up. Listened to her ramble on right in sequence with my dream. Finally, truly awoke around 1:00 pm. Checked the messages. Four from Mike. Three of him snoring in some sort of noarcoleptic trance. Bizarre pain filled human sounds. I call him up, tell him I'll be over in a half hour or so. Jennifer woke up. I "spooned" with her - at her demand. Made her a pot of Ruta Maya. Told her that everything was OK. Left. Stopped in at Airport Auto Parts to pick up new tail light. Installed it. But it didn't fix the problem. Drove over to Mike's. Briefly met his sister in the driveway. Worked on sorting IRS forms and a few odd jobs. Mostly, just talked. About his legs and going to the doctor. About the Hole in the Wall. Marcus came over. Jumping and jittery. Dressed Mike's right leg. Looks bad, like a burn. We all did some coke. More coke. Mike was in that sort of mood. Did coke all day. Bump here, bump there. Mike was feeling the effects of a few Vicodin. Bought a quarter to leave at the house. Drove home. 

Around 5:00 left to meet him at the Hole. Stopped by the house to pick up Jennifer- working at the Showdown tonight: 6-2. Bought a money order and dropped a payment for Geico in the mail for him. Dropped Jennifer off at Mojo's. Left the car at the Shoodown. Walked down to the Hole in the Wall. Sat with Gary Coffee and Christy waiting for Mike. When he comes, sit at the table with the others and Two Brains Bob and Mickey. Bob and I talk about jobs, his usual bullshit. Big job with ZZ Top Website, etc. When R.C. Banks started up, headed to the back of the room. Watch and listen to the music for a while. Keith bought tequila shots for everyone. Eventually, went to the back. Talked to Shelly and Nikki for a while. Up to the front, talked to Christy and Charlotte for a while. 

Walked up to the Showdown to see Jennifer. Had a couple of beers. Called the office. Mike said to come on back. We were supposed to work. Walking down, I saw Rick, exchanged a few drunken words. I got there. Had to call Mike from the pay phone to get him to open the door. Gary Coffee was coming out. Mike said that he was too wasted to work. So we sat in the office talking about fishing and doing bumps of coke. Bought a quarter. Shelly had called saying that I needed to walk her down. She was no where to be found when I came out. Met here and Lisa walking back up to the Showdown. Both seemed pissed at me. Fuck 'em. Sat at the bar at the Showdown and had a great drunken conversation with Pete LaSalle, writer and UT prof. Went breifly up to Mojo's to do another line or two in the bathroom. Gave Jenn Daly the bag to do a bump. Helped Jennifer for a while and then told her to call me cab. 
Cab came. Came home. 12:30. Watched porn, did the quarter that I had stashed here earlier. Felt the desire to write but didn't. Just watched porn and jacked-off with some poppers. Not even hard. Just massaging my limp cock and watching the ancient ritual. No orgasm. Called Jennifer at 2:00. Asked her to bring what she could. Went to take a shower. 

Late at night: cocaine and red wine. 2:25 am. Jennifer comes home from the Showdown. Brings me about a half that Lisa gave her. Sweet and beautiful. I do a few lines and massage her feet, hands and back. Feeling wired and ready for... for nothing. Just the night. 

And now I sit here with just a little more coke, ready to take on the world and the word. The last three days filled in with a cocaine and alcohol haze. Wanting to jack-off but not having any place to. 5:06 am. A little more coke left. What to do? What to do? 



January 2000


January 1, 2000 

Sat - South Padre Island - Sea Grape - Matamoros - Garcia's.



2 - Sun - Aquisman - Kelly's palapa - Tequila with Willie at Manolo's.



3 - Mon - Aquismon 


25 - Thu - Veracruz to Tuxpan.



26 - Wed - Tuxpan to Aquismon - Drinking with Willie



27 - Thu - Aquismon to South Padre - Sea Grape - Waking up to the bat. 8 hour bus to Matamoros. Cab to SPI. Lightning wind and rain. $100 and keys to the room. Drinks at the Irish Pub. "You got yourself a good daddy". Pizza Hut. 



28 - Fri - Walk up to Irish Pub. Talk to Kelly. Get car. Jennifer. Coffee at the Irish Pub. $40 more dollars. The usual awkard silences. Drive back to Austin. 127 miles to Kingsville with an empty gas tank. Read the first 30 pages of "War & Peace" to Jennifer. Into Austin at 7:00 pm, straight to the Hole in the Wall. Greetings all around. Sit a table iwth Rick & Shelly. Jennifer works for a couple of hours. Drinks 10 shots of tequila. Get a quarter of coke. Walk up to Showdown. Briefly see Michel, Eman and Keri. Walk up to Mojo's to say hey to Justin. Back to Hole. Check out McCoy's new band, the American People. Jennifer up on the tables. We leave by 1:00. Not enough cocaine. Too much beer. Briefly talk to Sam. Found out I'd given him a hot check. Jennifer signs her Showdown check to him (163.47) Pass out without unpacking.



29 - Sat - Up with the traveler's reflex at 8:30. Check mail and phone messages. Nothing really to justify concern. Start unpacking. Freezing cold outside. Straightening the room while Jennifer watches TV. Pilar calls and we talk for a while. Make the requsite calls to my parents. Lounge around and straigten up the room all morning and afternoon. Clean out a few boxes in the garage. Pull all the stuff out of our Y2K cache. Have some soup and crakers. Jennifer has to work at the Showdown at 6:00. She leaves early to grab coffee and stop by the Hole. I work on the chronology for a while. Check email. Work out for about 30 minutes - good stretches, listening to music. At ten, I ride the bike up the the Showdown to help Jennifer. Stop by Mojo's to see Justin. Down to the Hole but it was crowded and the band sucked. Ran into Allison. Helped Jennifer close up. Listening to Al Green on the jukebox. Stopped by HEB for a few groceries. Read magazines for a while and get to sleep by 3.



30 - Sun - Up naturally around 9. Good to be home in the bed, under the down comforter. Cold outside these days. Little heater going. Read "Gods, Graves & Scholars" on the Maya. Hunt around for other books. Jennifer wakes up and I make some coffee and bisciuts. We watch part of the "Big Combo". Jennifer goes to workout and then up to the Hole to see Deb - her last day - and hang out with the superbowl crowd. I write for a while. Listen to the game and watch only at the ads. Make some chicken and pasta. At the half, Jennifer calls and says she's too drunk to drive the car. I bike down. As soon as I'm in the door, win $50 from squares. Jennifer tells me she's working until 10 because Jeb's getting fired. I watch the last quarter, drink Dos XXs, talk to Deb and Shelly. The last part of the game is great. With the 50, buy a half from C. Catch him in the bathroom talking with L. about the game. Do a couple of lines with Jennifer in the office. Walk down to Mojo's, see Justin, do a couple of lines in the bathroom. Amanda shows up and she and I talk in back. Jeff disappears and Jennifer is covering for him with Waldo. When she gets off, we do a couple of more lines in the office. I stay for two more beers and head home around 11. (D. catches me at the door and asks for a bump. I head back in and he does three big keys, spilling most of it on the floor.) At the room, dump the rest of the bag on an "Unplug This" CD, use my Swiss Army Knife to cut up lines and an old Silver Note to snort - the only cash I have. Work on writing for a while. Play guitar. Jennifer calls at 12, says that Jeff can't even stand, that she's going to close the place down. Be home late. I do a few more lines. Get a big stack of porn videos and start watching, looking for the moment to obsess over, when the eye cannot be saturated. The coke keeps me from coming for a long time, going back and forth from one image to another, always waiting to be surprised by a scene only half remembered. I come in the usual cocaine manner, alot and for a long time - but without really going over the top. Finally, it's over. I write for a while, read, try to go to sleep. Toss and turn. Jennifer comes in at 4. I sleep deeply soon after. Good dreams.



31 - Mon - Up around 9:30. Phone ringing. Don't answer. Call to see if either Lee or Jeff is at the Hole for the mats. Lee answers, so I drive on down. Get there around 10. Everyone's fairly pissed becaause Jeff got wasted and fucked up the money, etc. Mats hadn't been done in a month. Get them back by 11. Back to the room. Jennifer is still asleep. Check messages. Call Dihanan back about Book Festival accounts. Load up the laundry and take it down. Read Entertainment Weekly while I wait. Get back to the room at 1:30. Make lunch: chicken and pasta, oil and garlic. Jennifer wakes. Makes a salad. We watch a good Hitchcock documentary, "Genius behind the Showman?", while we eat. Around 3 she drives me down to the TBF office to see what's hit the fan while i've been away. Greetings, get the file and get out. Back to the room. Work on the Bone Carver I, layout and prose forms for an hour or so. Using "Our Lady of Mott Haven" as a model. Then clean up the room, etc. Make some soup. Watch the Simpson's and surf around the cable. Watch a Nick Nolte Biography. Part of Slacker. Watch for Greg and Sam's old place. Jennifer leaves to go work-out and then go to work at the Showdown. I make some coffee. Talk to Sam, home from his new job at the liquor store - with three stolen bottles. Getting ready to take a couple of ephedrine and then work out.




1999


March 


A Series of Arguments Amidst the Beauty
(Ascending Chronology)


March 30 - Tuesday - Austin - Waiting until the last minute for everything. At the Hole in the Wall the night before, drinking, doing drugs. Hungover and asleep for most of the day. On the road around 9:30 pm to Houston, after a "good luck" shot at the Hole before leaving. Arrive around 12:30. Up until 3:30 am, drinking and talking with her Dad. Hedging on jet-lag to get us through.


March 31 - Wednesday - Houston/ London - Wake up dreaming of cocaine.

Jennifer's father gives us a lift to the airport. Sitting next to a Young Christian who, thank his God, remained deep in prayer most of the trip. Chapters in his good book on Affliction and Chastisement. Not long to wait in London. Bad Burger King and some water. On to Milan. Incredible views of the Alps.


April 1 - Thursday - London/ Milan, Italy - Arrive in Milan around 12:00 pm. Blue skies and cars that looked like toys. People that look you in the eye. A Language like a song. Wasted at the Stazione Centrale. Stay in the Navigli District. Stumble off Metro, into room, asleep from 4:00 to 9:00. Awake and hungry. Down the street to the Tratoria Osvaldo. Full of Italians, laughing and loud. Red checkered tablecloths and big carafes of red wine. Spaghetti Vongole and Pizza Quattro Stagiono. Walking later around the canals, checking out the bars. April Fools.


April 2 - Friday - Milan - Dreams of the deep past, movie stars, Amerika, drugs. Blue light behind the window blinds. Birdsong and the clamor of the Trams.

Walk up to the Duomo.

Open confessionals, the Old Women clustered and waiting. Businessmen rushing through, pausing to quickly genuflect or cross themselves. A thankfully empty Galleria.

Jokes about Remus.

Facing La Scala with Da Vinci. Early morning car horns. Flowers for sale. Lazy beggars.

Arguing at the Post Office. Walk up to Sforza Castle. Stop in for another cappuccino. Back to La Scala. Question: how many blow-jobs have been delivered at La Scala?

Cheap wedding rings on busy street. "Real Silver". Metro to L Brera at closing time. Jennifer waits out the details: a little boy blowing up a fish liver with exposed balls, slimy fish in still life, the ugly faces of the baby Jesus. Caravaggio gone by too quickly.

Search for a mythical restaurant in the evening, walking ourselves into exhaustion. Find a fair one called Aldo D'Oro. Gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce and a touch filet with green pepper. Back to the room before the Metro closes, *. Jennifer establishes a rule:

When you find a good restaurant in a strange town, don't try too hard to find another. Return to the one you've already been to and try something different.



April 3 Saturday - Milan/ Venice - Decisions to move on out of the big cities and teeming crowds. We head to Venice. Massive cathedral train station full of Easter travelers. The crowd runs like rats to board the train. We run andend up in the last car. Eat bread, cheese, strawberries and chocolate while watching the Northern Italian landscape roll by.

Venice is insane with people. Never go to Venice during Easter. Calling forever to find a place. Finally end up at Hotel Al Gobbo, not far from the station, with a view down in to a plaza, private bath.

Vaporetto to Piazza San Marco. Even with crowds, the city is still beautiful. Walking around, our hatred and disgust of all humanity rises. Stop at Caffe Arlecchino. Right there on the Grand Canal with a view of the Rialto bridge. Drink a couple of big bottle of San Souci beer. All is well in the world.

Intoxicated, go to Aldo Madonna to eat and get the royal tourist shaft deal. Should've just stayed on the Canal and gotten drunk. Try to roam around San Marco, searching for a gook place to drink it down. Harry's is a surreal elitist nightmare of Dogwomen and pompous men with asses for faces. I buy Jennifer a rose. Drink outdoors down around the Piazza. Argue. Death in Venice. Wanting to jump over the edge of the Vaporetto and drown in the Canal because I am so mad to be mad in such a beautiful place.


April 4 -Easter Sunday - Venice - Wake up and make our restorations. Bells are ringing all over the city. The motions of the included non-breakfast downstairs. Get a Vaporetto to the other side and walk around the empty Venetian neighborhoods. Morning sunlight slanting through the narrow passages, calm rios and inlets. In a wide campo/ piazza: old men sitting on benches, waving hands and talking loudly, dogs guarding their territory. Sitting at a cafe drinking cappuccinos, writing, watching the tourists move through the place like ghosts. Around to the Canale della Guidecca, watch a man and boy repairing a boat.

To the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. Crowds. Blank faces gawking at the masterpieces. Jennifer isn't amused. Later to the steps of Santa Maria della Salute, trying to figure it out. This is not what we imagined. Around and around the streets clogged with people. Lunch at the Ristorante Omnibus by the Rialto. Fair pizza. The back over to drink more Sans Souci, trying to recapture something of the brief magic of yesterday.

End up picking up bread, cheese and wine and eating out on the Canale de Cannareggio, near the ghetto. A quiet place on our own terms. A walk through the ghetto, towards San Marco, drinking from a wine bottle, getting drunker, stumbling back to the room. Considering trying to earn some money by performing Jimmy Stewart impressions. Jennifer is bare foot and beautiful. In the piazza below our room a man with a puppet that plays the piano plays. We argue briefly over bad pizza.


April 5 - Monday - Venice/ Assisi - Train to Assisi at 9:00 am. Beautiful Landscape all the way through Bologna. A notable absence or crowds. Room with a view. Annalisa Martini. An old family place. Medieval rooftops and a green patched valley in the distance. Walk around the piazza. Dinner at Tratoria Otello. Insalata caprese, Pasta Otello, Funchi, Brucheta, Vino Rosa. Back to room to sleep around 9:00 pm in huge cloud-like bed. Lightning across the valley.


April 6 - Tuesday - Assisi - Wake late around 9:00 am. Beautiful blue day. Caps in the piazza. Down to basilica but it's closed and crowded. A recent earthquake. What are they looking at? Excellent lunch at Ristorante Metastasio overlooking the valley. Insalta caprese, Pizza salsicca and pepperoni, Canneloni, draft Peroni. Incredible view.

In the late afternoon, we walk up to the Rocca Maggiore. Sunset. Hike around castle and sit on a pillar drinking wine. Ancient olive trees and a cemetery. Drums in the distance, down in the piazza.


April 7 - Wednesday - Assisi/ Bari - Try Bascilica gain. Closed because of earthquke. Down the steps and shadowed passages, through the old city gates to the bus stop. Walk around the sad little city below. Lunch at a self service. Consider Florence but it's full for Easter. Catch the train to Bari, with thankfully few people. 8 hours. Read and watch the ocean. Arrive in Bari around 10 pm. Remnants of an anti-NATO demonstration. Hotel Fiorini. Dracula owner. Sailor Pub to drink before curfew. Giant litres mugs of Stella Artois and soccer games on T.V.. Kids running around and cheesy disco music by DJ. Late night pizza, harmelss flirting and arguments.


April 8 - Thursday - Bari/ Igoumenitsa, Greece - Wake late, *, walk down the steps and through the old city gates to the bus station. Then around the Old Town. Intramuros. Defying all the guide books which warned against even stepping a single foot within. It's where the city lives. At one point the labyrinths held out pirates, now it's tourists. Buy food at market. After a short search, with full packs, find a place set down in the vaulted basement of a building, packed with regulars, fast service with no menu. Vino, cuccina, antipasto (salsicci, cheese, olives), Peroni, pasta and tomato, minestra with beans.

Walk up to the train station to change money. Stop for capuccino. Depressed. Depresso. Back to ferry. Purchase a cabin. Wait to board at a nearby cafe. Dubbed American movie on TV. Oddly empty city. But bad insoles for Jennifer's shoes. Board around 6:00 pm. Sit in ship's bar drinking Amstels. A sudden bettering of the world. Feel like going to Albania (about 30 miles from where we land) to look around, help and write something famous.


April 9 - Friday - Igoumenitsa/ Athens - After a sweet night of good sleep on the Adriatic, wake to see the coast of Greece. Wondering about the war just north. Dock around 8:00. Dirt streets and the signs of the Thrid World. Change money from an old man in a grocery. Pencil on paper calculations. No signs of any war. Upto the teeming bus station. Buy tickets and pee into the standard hole in the ground. The bus is packed and we get stuck/ swindled(?) by trading with two American idiots on the sunny side. No A/C. But a spectacular winding coastal road outside. Cell phones go off consistently to be answered by a people that look like they just left their hut and herd of sheep in the hills. Jennifer comments: "It's amazing: every one of these people has a cell phone but still shits in a hole in the ground." Jennifer needs to pee again and threatens to hang her ass out the window if we don't stop soon. The bus stops in Nafpaktos to catch a ferry to Patras. Full of school kids. The Everyday Myth. No Byron in sight.

Arrive into Athens around dusk. Catch a cab to Omonias square. Metro to Biktopia, walk to Hostel Aphrodite. Full of Americans and Australians. Go to the downstairs bar for our "free drink". Turns out to be bad Ouzo. We decline and drink Amstels instead. Shots of Beam to celebrate Greece. Jennifer quizes the bartender on working on the Islands. I get mad. We leave, arguing still, and stumble into a long and solemn candle light procession. Priests and small children, families and something on a bier, we walk slowly along with it, no way to get around, everyone is singing. Inside a bar, we see the event on TV. No idea what's going on. Stop in an old bar, the few regulars there watching "The Ten Commandments" with the volume turned down and Greek music playing. A couple of Amstels. Cool off. Down the street to eat a couple of excellent gyros and more beer. Back to Aphrodite, I check email. Jennifer goes downstairs for a drink. We end up both drinkng too much. Late night pizza and salad in the popular bar. Argue like lunatics. Jennifer passes out on the floor until I wake her and pull her into bed. A rooster crows at first light.


April 10 - Saturday - Athens - Wake up late, *, hungover. Shower and have breakfast down in the bar. Make our way slowly to the Acropolis, stopping for caps to refortify. Through the flea market and Plaka. One the way up, stop at a promising looking place with mediochre food. Jennifer fed most of hers to the cats. A boy with a straw flute tried to hustle us. Up top, the Acropolis is just now closing (2:00 pm). We can't figure it out. Head across town to the National Gallery. Also closed. Finally, we figure it out: the Greek Orthodox Easter is a week later. We are in Athens for Greek Easter - the biggest holiday of the year. Frustrated, we head back to the Hostel to see about getting a feryy to the Island tomorrow, Easter Sunday. No dice. Nothing is moving, not even the buses. So that's why we heard everyone leaving early this morning. 

I check email. Jennifer is mad. Goes down to the bar to drink and then out into the neighborhoods. When she returns, we go for a walk and decide to go to a movie. Metro to Omonia square. First sight off the train: a young girl, green and passed out in a guys arms, head lolling as he tries to move her. Walking on, a rig is passed openly. Up the stairs, junkies all over, piled in the corners, on top of each other, most passed out, some shooting up, perhaps some dead. A few gaze at is with dull incomprehension, focused deep inward. On the street level, more of the same with a bit more animation, dealers, whores, pimps. Definitely a bad scene. We walk like we know exactly where we are going, been here a million times. But we don't and end up making a complete circle around the square. On the second pass, a few of the masses take notice. We decide to just cut our losses and head on back to the Hostel. We descend through the circles of hell, feeling the addiction and death around us. The fear was that one of them, in desparate need, might sieze upon us as having something of value. But they were all too fucked up. And we returned to the Hostel without incident. Down through the park with the statue and the grafitti: the anarchist A.

Lots of people in the neighborhoods heading to Midnight masses. Find a good place that serves "toasts", have a few with Amstels. The war is on TV, alternating with a Greek Orthodox Mass, all the time. I offend the owner by leaving too big a tip. Head back to the gyro place. Souvlaki. Notice the stream of customers buying the homemade wine, retsina, bringing in their empty water jugs. We try some. Buy some more. Try some more. "Happy Juice". Back in the room, talking, laughing, drinking more wine. Outside the window, at midnight, fireworks.



April 11 - Easter Sunday - Athens - Sleep late. Most places closed. Stop at a bakery for bread. Floaters for caps. Walk around empty Plaka. Around to the Temple of Zeus, over to the Stadium. Up through the park, stopping under orange trees to watch and old woman feed all the cats. Eat a lunch of bread and cheese and chocolate in a small plaza by a chruch. American girls suntanning ont he steps. Walk around more. Up to Syntagma. Up towards the Acropolis, eat at a place with a view of all Athens. Wait for the sunset on the rocks below. Back to Hostel. Draw and write in the downstairs Tiki Bar. Later walk some more around the old neighborhoods, searching for something rare and real, end up with a few expensive beers at local bar.


April 12 - Monday - Athens/ Naxos - Up at 10:00 am. Surprisingly good breakfast downstairs. 15 minutes too much of TV. To the Acropolis on a mission. Once again, the crowds like swarms of ants over the ruins. Down to the familiar Plaka and flea markets. Shop around. Have espressos with whipped cream and a shot of Baileys at an out of the way place, Initero. The manager gives us a free shot. Decide to buy a bottle of Baileys. More junk shops and junk. Back to the Hostel. Pick up bags. Head down to Piraeus.

Decide to go to Naxos. Call for room. Get ferry tickets. Wait at Filoxenia Cafe, drinking Nescafe Frappes. Get some bad Goody's burgers and toasts to eat. Board ferry and find a good table, drink the homemade retsina, and laugh at our private jokes. Write and work on our travel journals. The fight over who gets the best artifacts. Get into Naxos late, around 1:15 am.

The surreal doorway to the infinite, the Temple of Apollo, was the first thing we saw, illuminated intensely in the black night. Room at the Okeanis Hotel. Big bed, private bath. Cheap and clean. A window that opens to all of the Mediterranian. 


April 13 - Tuesday - Naxos Town - Waking to the sound of the surf, a thousand shades of blue, rock jetties, Paros Island in the distance, gulls, fishing boats, mopeds and cars racing down the pier. A dream of meeting God.

Cold strong wind. A cross on the roof below us. If you stick your head out the window, the Temple of Apollo to the right. The sense of having finally gotten where we wanted to be on our travels. After capuccinos at a seaside cafe, we walk around the town. Few people. Many place preparing for the summer onslaught. White buidings, blue shutters. Down near the beach, a ruin of a house full of the wind. Find a good place, Katerina's, with "unlimited filter coffee". Eat breakfast. Two eggs, bacon, toast. Read the papers. CNN on the TV as always. The "Serbian Crisis". Euphemisms and reports of murder and rape. Scooters relentlessly zippering through the streets.

Decide to split up for a while. I walked over the jetty and up to the Temple of Apollo to draw. Then down the abandonded beaches, stopping to draw a boat, picking a few wildflowers. Back to the room around 7:00. Watching the sunset out the open window. Under the covers, stars emerging. Rushes of the tide. Tasting the ocean. She is leaning out the window with eyes closed. Far away, the lights from another town across the waters shimmer upon the verge.

Dinner at Poseidon Tavern. Very good. A cold white wine made on the owner's father-in-law's local farm, good bread, greek salad, mushroom and onion soup, chicken and potatoes. Jennifer talked to the owner, Irene, about working on the Islands. Later, Irene brought us out a couple of shots of Raki as was the custom.

Went up to a local bar, Veggara, and drank too much. Irene (from Wheelchair) showed up and we drank more. Back at the Hotel, we were locked out. Tried to break in for a while, got into an argument. I waited for a key. Jennifer went back up to the bar. The guy eventually returned from "having a quick drink" with a key. Found Jennifer wasted at the bar and walked, pulled and dragged her back to the room.



April 14 - Wednesday - Naxos - Wake up, repentant, still in love. Walk over to Katerina's for breakfast. Back to room, *, shower. I head up into the labyrinths of the Old Town and draw a church with stairs that we had passed yesterday. Stray cats everywhere. White walls, rounded corners. Tons of light. Under a pine tree, eating chocolate, trying to capture the simple line and shadow.

Back to the room around 6:00 pm. Return to the Poseidon. Big party inside. A waitress as slow as molasses. Fried cheese, "Poseidon Special" salad, pastitsio, small carafe of white wine. Everything now is only mediocre, at best. Wine full of the memory of a hangover, salad with half a jar of mayonaisse dumped on it, pastitsio is macaronni with dogfood. This experience gives rise to Jennifer's next rule:

Never return to a restaurant where you've had an exceptional meal - unless to order the exact same thing.
Along the seaside with the remains of the sunset. Jennifer throws up her dinner. Dowm below our room is a seaside Italian place. We order pizza, tortellini and wine. Eating and drinking under the stars, watching the sky deepen through every shade of blue. I'm feeling a little under the weather through and we go upstairs and instantly fall to sleep.


April 15 - Thursday - Naxos/ Santorini - Up at 10:30 am. Katerina's for breakfast and the papers. Omelettes with bacon, tomato and cheese, toast, yogurt with pears, coffee. Nescafe frappe at a seaside cafe. Writing. Catch the ferry to Santorini at 2:00.

On the ferry. Upper deck. Jennifer reading Ross MacDonald's The Chill. Island shapes in the distance. Deep blue ocean, pale blue sky. A stop in Ios. Then the black crater of Santorini. Up on the highest deck in the sun and wind.

Taxi up the hairpins to Thira. As I am paying the Taxi, Jennifer sets us up with a guy for a great room with a view, refrigerator, bath, donkey out the window. We walk down to the town center. Find a typical restaurant on the cliff, overlooking the crater and wait for the sun to set. Greek salad, Amstels. Conversations with a couple of Canadian women about Crete. Cold night air.

Back in the room. Greek TV with its amusing comercials. Powerlifting competitions, Italian neo-realist film with Greek subtitles. Reading, finishing The Three Muskateers. Late, we walk down to a souvlaki place by the Toast Club for some bottled water. Back in the room, Jennifer watches a horrible American export movie, Strike Point. Bits and pieces drift into my dreams. Drugs and guns. The oxymorons of meaningless violence.


April 16 - Friday - Santorini - Wake up late and lazy. Hee haw donkey sounds next door. *. Mama's for breakfast. A big group of Americans. Mama is the whole show. Good food. On the way to the center, Jennifer suggests we rent a scooter. Immediately burn down to Kamari Beach. Back to the room to change into beach clothes. Spin down to Perissa Beach. Empty black sand and gravel beaches. Being able to motor across the Island is amazing. Twisting high roads and the freedom to move off the beaten trail. Stop and eat pizza at a beachside place. Amstels in ice cold mugs. Some kids rolling around. We lay out there for a while. Cold wind and surf. Jennifer drove for a while. Stopped and hiked up to an old ruin that wasn't much. Caves carved into lavastone. High roads with dizzy views. Back in Thira, walked around the overpriced shops. Coffee and ice-cream. Showered off the road grime in the room, rode on up to find groceries. Returned the scooter.

Dinner at Triala, "Authentic Mexican Food". Start with all right nachos and taco salad. Requests for more hot sauce were met with disbelief. Chicken enchiladas turned out to be chicken in a pancake. Disappointing. Walk over to the Blue Note for a few beers. Then to Tithora to watch the Americans jerk and dance around. Into Enigma for a shot and back to the Blue Note for a last couple of beers. We got the standard complementary shots of "Kazis". A winding pathway back to the room, stars bright overhead. Friday night in Greece.


April 17 - Saturday - Santorini - Jennifer up early, goes down to center for coffee and a paper. Checks about ferries to Crete. Doesn't leave until Sunday at 1:00. Spend the day walking around the town. Have lunch at Mama's. Weird tasting hamburgers - actually lamburgers. We split up for a while. I draw an abandonded dwelling near the room. Running overbudget. Call Jennifer's Dad and he agrees to deposit some cash in her account. We celebrate at a pretentious place, Franco's. Expensive drinks on recliners, the sunset timed with Ravel's "Bolero". Watching the others so enraptured, Jennifer speculates that they are going to have to go clean up their spontaneuos ejaculations in the bathroom later.

Later we move up to a much better "Jazz Bar". I sit out and watch the stars, a crescent moon, drinking Amstels, while Jennifer hangs out with some women at the bar. The bartender recommends a place to eat, Naoussa. We head on over, have an excellent dinner of Pasta Carbonara, Caesar's Salad, bread and wine.


April 18 - Sunday - Santorini/ Hania, Crete - Up, pack-up, and head down to the center. Buy ferry tickets. Coffee and the papers. Catch the bus down to the port for the ferry. Talking about what we want to do on Crete, we get into and argument. Decide to split up for a few days. Passports, tickets, money. Going through all the ludicrous motions. Iraklion is a pit of a city. Walk Jennifer to the bus station to Hania. I'm planning to stay in Iraklion for a few days, check out Knossos. Cooling down, I go to Hania with her. Maybe see Knossos on the return.

A beautiful bus ride to Hania. Got in about 10 pm. Room at the Hotel Meltemi. Walk down from the station to the harbour, surprised at how beautiful the place was. A calm Venetian style harbour marked by an old lighthouse and surrounded by a plethora of bars and restaurants. Quite a few people out, drinking, strolling, eating. Passing by various establishments, waiters attempt to lure us in with promises of good food, drinks and cheap rooms. The Hotel was in an old building at the far left end of the harbour. Our room had a massive stone fireplace/ stove, huge dark beams high above, slight view of the lighthouse.

Walked around the harbour, through the narrow streets of the Old City, ivy covered balconies, open air restaurants inside of cathedral-like ruins, a weaver at his loom, cats and dogs, garlic and roasting meat. Looking for a good place to drink. Jennifer chose a place that advertised no view and bad service, Klik's - a Scandanavian Disco Bar. We ordered a couple of good Budweisers from the Sweedish bartender, Lora. Jennifer asked about work and was told she could work there if she wanted. She arranged for an interview the next day at 7:00 pm. The bartender gave us a few free shots. Heading back to the room, stopped for a couple of slices of pizza, a gyro and some spanikopita. Took it all back to the room. Eating and drinking. A scarab on the curtain. *.


April 19 - Monday - Hania - Intense dream of a deeper reality beyond the dream, symbolized by a giant Go-like game. I wore an elaborate dog mask and jumped from square to square, playing against a woman in a skull-death mask. I knew her strategy because I had had a spy watch her read the paintings in the facets of a diamond. She wanted my eyes/ vision.

Awake to a racket out in the hallway. Jennifer hadn't slept well. Downstairs to the open air cafe for "English" breakfast: 2 eggs, toast, ham, OJ and coffee. Settled up and walked just around the corner to a place Jennifer had read about in one of the guide books, Anastasia Studio. Immediately fell in love with the place. Two levels with a winding staircase, kitchen, private bath and two balconies overlooking a beautiful street. After settling in, we wanted to stock the kitchen. Walked around to various places buying vegetables, wine, bread, pasta, cheeses, eggs, crackers, chips, olive oil and spices. Returned to the studio and relaxed in the privacy, reading, writing. 

Later, walked around the harbour, waiting on the sunset. Stopped into the restaurant Monastriki for oil and tomato dip, bread and a salad. Glass of local white wine. Went to watch the sunset over by the fishing boats. Kliks was closed so we went on back to the room. Stopped in at a magazine shop/ bookstore and bought a couple of books on Greek poetry: Seferis and Sherrard. While Jennifer went to the interview, I wrote and read, copied a drawing of the lighthouse. She returned around 10:00 pm. Got the job. Had to pretend to be English if anyone asked. Practised her English accent. We stayed in, drinking wine and reading. Later I went for another bottle.


April 20 - Tuesday - Hania - Jennifer made breakfast. I went for fresh bread from a nearby bakery. And a paper. Relaxed with the doors to the balcony open to the beauty of the day. Went out to walk around. Went by a museum but it was closed. Looked for places where Jennifer might live if she stayed. Browsed the interesting food market. Cheese and peanuts.

Jennifer went to work around 8:20 pm. I went downstairs to a little restaurant, drank beer and listened to two guys sing traditional songs. Melancholy and alone. Wandered around the Old Town, killing time, drinking in every bar I passed, a little crazy with idea of loss. Around 3:00 am, sitting on a bench beside the harbour, sobering up, waiting for her to get off work. Go by Kliks and it's closed. No Jennifer. Walk around the empty streets. Finally, turning the corner to head back to the studio, I see her standing below the balconies, swaying in the street, with a four or five dogs looking at her like she's insane. She's out of her mind drunk. I take her up stairs and put her to bed. From what I can get out of her, she decided that she didn't want the job, no tips and obnoxious customers, and told them that I had asked her to marry me. So the two other bartenders took her out drinking where she made a spectacle of herself. She somehow stumbled home. The she threw up for a long time in the bathroom.


April 21 - Wednesday - Hania - Another angry morning, but beautiful day. Wake very late. Nescafe. Walk around. Anti-NATO graffitti. Hop on a bus to Souda. A sandwich and a coke in a strange little place. Buying postcards, an old man complaing to us about the shootings in Columbine - which we haven't heard about. "Americans are insane, crazy, too much violence." But it's a sad town with sad faces to me. Back to Hania. Take Jennifer to the place downstairs. Stuffed tomatoes, bread, wine, swordfish, good music. Walk around the night with nothing going on. Reconciled to her return now.


April 22 - Thursday - Hania - Walk around and buy stuff. Trinkets and gifts for family and friends. In a shop that sells only chess related things, amazing boards and carved pieces, we meet a funny old man that reminds me of Borges. I go out to the lighthouse for a while and draw while Jennifer shops for clothes. Later, we go by Kliks to say goodbye. I try to pull her out to a little pier and ask her to marry me, but she senses what I am up to and refuses. Into Kliks for a few drinks and congrats and goodbyes. Back to the place downstairs for dinner. Because of the refusal, arguments over lobster and stuffed tomatoes. Go to sleep full of sorrow. Yoked.


April 23 - Friday - Hania/ Athens - Wake up early and go to other side of harbor to draw a boat. Interrupted continually by curious and critical fishermen. Ironic (to me). Back to room, pack. Catch the bus back to Iraklion. Once there, we argue and walk forever around the hot ugly city. No Knossos this trip. I try to find a sense of humor. Jennifer is in a foul mood. Wait for the ferry to leave. Beer in a cafe. Supplies at a grocery store. On to the ferry to Atens. Get a comfortable cabin. Eat in room. Wander around ship. Sleep on the water.


April 24 - Saturday - Patras/Brindisi - Dock in Piraeus early in the morning and commence a day full of banal horror and comic errors. Off boat. Taxi to Bus Station. No bus to either Igounomentsa or Patras. Taxi back to ferry. No ferry. Metro to trolley. Wrong trolley. End up back at port. Metro back to Victoria. Walk to train station. Tickets to Patras. Both extremely irritable, go to National Archaeological Museum. Argue and argue. Into an American looking bar (always a bad sign) and eat insanely overpriced nachos. Stumble through the museum. Back to train station. Off to Patras.

At Patras, buy tickets to Brindisi. Problems with the ATMs and money. Board ferry, deck class and we are nearly thrown out the door onto an oily cold windy deck. Not to come back in. Jennifer says no fucking way. Upgrade to airline seats. Not allowed to take our packs in the bar. Decide to fuck it all and get a cabin. The bursor is not happy about any of this. Evidently, we are on some sort of Nazi ship. Get cabin but there is no A/C. Jennifer goes to complain. Everyone is going crazy. I go out on the deck and consider jumping over a la Hart Crane. The stars hold me down. Jennifer comes and gets me.


April 25 - Sunday - Brindisi/Rome - Arrive in Brindisi early. Cold and rainy. Marathon race through the city. Stop for the first good cap since leaving Italy. ATM search. Catch the train.

Train stops in Bari and I walk across town trying in vain to cash in the other ferry ticket. The city looks like a sewer in the cold and rain. Back to the station. And the train to Rome. The most beautiful landscape so far. Should've just holed up down here for the whole trip. Rented a scooter and spun around all the villages and hills. Regrets. Closer to Rome, the train gets more crowded. We have a good compartment. Meet a German girl who lives in Rome, named Julie. She and Jennifer talk.

In Rome, massive crowds at the Termini. Say goodbye to Julie. Find the nearby Pensione Virginia. Adequate. Downstairs for a bad dinner. "Tourist Menu": Pasta with oil and garlic, meatballs, bread, wine, spaghetti carbonara. Call my parents and get them to deposit more money. Back to the room. Jennifer's asleep and I am exhausted. Long hard travels to Rome.


April 26 - Monday - Rome - Wake up to soft hammering somewhere in the buiding. It drives both of us insane. Downstairs for laundry and caps nearby. We walk around the city. Down to Trevi Fountain. A sea of tourists. Jennifer not impressed. I get irritated. See the Capuchin Crypt of Bones. She like this. Back to room to get laundry. Decide to split up for the day. I ride buses around all day, sad and pensive, walk by the forum, over to the Spanish Steps. The entire time, I'd rather be with Jennifer. Get ticketed and given the third degree by the cops for trying to ride the Metro without paying. Shake down. Nearly lose my passport. Return to room depressed. Jennifer cheers me up and takes care of me. *. Quietly in the room with the key in the keyhole.

We go down to the Coloseum and Forum. Early evening. Cross river to eat at a little place in the Travastere. Spianch ricotta ravioli, broccoli, bread and a huge carafe of red wine. Drug deals going on somewhere around us. But an excellent dinner. Walk around and end up going to see Altman's Cookie's Fortune at a nearby theatre. I start feeling bad and we catch a crazy cab, straight out of a Fellini film, back to the pensione.


April 27 - Tuesday - Rome - Again the slow hammering. Like something out of Poe. Plan to head up to Florence. Pack up and leave packs at pensione. Get money from the ATM. Bus to the Vatican. Walk through the museums, moving away from the crowds. On the headphone tour. The Sistine Chapel is packed with gawkers. Jennifer not impressed after all the other masterpieces. After, we go for a beer nearby and get into an argument about culture. Upon entering St. Peter's she is cursing and ready to "blow the pope". We make a quick tour and leave. Bus back to Termini.

Decide to go eat at a place near the Coloseum. Pyramid. We are too early. Beer nearby. Rainy grey day and evening. Call Florence. No rooms anywhere. Dinner at Bucalno. Excellent risotto, pizza, wine. I'm feeling ill again. Back to Virginia to see about a room for the night. We stop and buy a bottle of Chianti. To our surprise, the pensione is full. But they send us across the street to a better place, Pensione Serena. Shower and sleep.


April 28 - Wednesday - Rome - Sleep deep and late until 11:00. So perhaps, no Florence. A shame to be so close. Decide to stay here another night. Walk to Termini, couple of caps on the way, check the ATMs for cash. And discover that we have no more money. "Sorry, your card is out of credit today." We try a bunch of ATMs all to the same response. We have about 150,000 lire. Back to pensione, pay for last night (80K), get our packs. Down to 70K. For the entire day and most of the night in Rome.

To Termini and check the big pack (5K), leaving us with 65K. Buy tickets for the bus to RR Taburtina (3K) and the train to Fiumicino airport (16K), leaving us 46K. Head to Spanish Steps. Hordes of tourists. Pantheon. Piazza Navona. Wine beside Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers. Ruining many family's pretty picture of Rome. Laughing. Pizza at a place nearby (8K), leaving 38K. Buy cheese, more wine and bread (11K), leaving 27K. Back to Spanish Steps. Up to Villa Borghese. Sit on a park bench, drink and eat. Back to Trevi Fountain. Sit around and watch a women use a magnet to collect coins. Back to Termini and around to the University area. A couple of beers at a place along the street (6), leaving 21K. A long walk down to San Lorenzo. Quaint Marxist slogans on the walls. Find a great student bar set down in a cellar, beer and a game of cards (14K), leaving 7K. Back to Termini, retrieve big pack before 12:00 am. Try to sell guide books. Over to McDonald's to use the bathroom. Jennifer get's pinched on the ass by a bum. "Back off, Buddy!". Harmless.

Walk the long walk to the Spanish Steps. Sit and drink wine under the stars, under the moon, watching the people come and go. Italian boys trying to seduce American girls below us. Jennifer barefoot in the fountain. Drunk and as beautiful and as happy as ever can be. No money, no place to sleep, not much food, but a ticket out in a few hours. Very happy with Jennifer sleeping beside me as I scrawl on the remaining postcards. This night alone is worth the agonies of the entire trip.

Back to Termini, aching and not drunk enough. 3:30 am. Fellow late night revelers. To the saddest train station in the world. People everywhere in a thousand different postures of exhaustion. A black drunk hassling everyone. Spend our last lire on two cups of cappuccino, spiked with Bailey's. Finally, we catch the train to the airport.


April 29 - Thursday - Rome/ London/ Houston - First bad sign: we are made to check the big pack full of fragile objects. Go to the gate and wait. Second bad sign: the plane is late. Wait and wait. Leave at 8:00 am instead of 7:20. Crash and eat bad food. On landing in London, they announce that there will be a special bus to take passengers going to Houston to their connecting flight. Off plane, no special bus in sight. Race to the gate. Get fucked by the British who stall us cause they overbooked the flight and sold our seats. Didn't expect us to actually get there. Jennifer is insane with anger. Go to the desk and rebook a flight leaving at 12:00 pm. Get a couple of vouchers. Buy magazine and horrible Burger King burgers. Catch the flight to Pittsburg. Jennifer complains of cramps and gets some pills. The prim British Airrways stewardesses won't serve her much alcohol, so she steals about six bottles of wine from the kitchen. We watch Stepmom and Waterboy. Arrive in Pittsburg at 3:00 pm. Run around trying to get more cash vouchers. Con a Traveler's Aid woman into buying pads. Plane arrives in Houston at 6:00 pm. Meet Jennifer's dad there. Of course, the pack didn't make it. 12 hrs in the air. 5 hrs layover. 35 hrs no sleep. Welcome to America. Drink Miller Light and talk to her Dad and Stepmom while Gallager is on the TV. Fall into a sleep close to death. Happy to be home. Call my sister and wish her a happy birthday. Call FringeWare and discover that Paco has quit.


April 30 - Friday - Houston/Austin - Sleep late. Do nothing all day. Sloppy egg sandwiches. Dinner with her folks. Drive on back to Austin.


December

1 - Woke up at 5:30 am. Played around with Jennifer for a while. Started working on the Chronos Project. 


11 - Sun - Jennifer wants to break the pig and I stall her. Need to get the ring from the jewelers. 


12 - Mon - I ask Jennifer to marry me. She accepts. In the act of breaking the pig, I give her the ring. Engagement. We go to the Hole to celebrate and show off. Everyone very happy. Many drinks are bought.


13 - Tue - Mike White calls. Talk to Lisa Mullen for a couple of hours. Down to Hole. Mike and Chip in the office. Celebrations. Down to Showdown. Late. Learn mnay things. Mookie is dead. 


14 - Wed - Work for a while at the warehouse. Later go to help Jennifer at the Showdown. She and Amanda and Greg drink champagne. I bus and wash glasses. We come home. Drink Shiraz. Watch "Dick". Pass out. 


15 - Thu - Wake up around 11:00 am. Go to Foley's to pick up black coat, charcoal grey pant, light grey shirt and grey tie. The Foley's guy, Dallas, gives me a sweet deal. Head over to warehouse. Justin is late. Work on finishing up invoices. Head back to the room around 2:00 pm. Jennifer is waking up beautifully. Takes me back to warehouse. Justin takes me down to Ryder. We get the truck. Back to room. Dress. Head over ot Govener's Mansion for the Book Festival Meeting. Wear my costume. Amazing. Blows them all away. Get compliments, invitations. It's like I joined the club or something. Frightening. Give good report. Jennifer had gone to Hoffbrau with Emily, Biritt, Al. Walk over to Dog & Duck. Meet Jennifer. Andy buys us a shot of Beam. Then to the Hole. The Norton's. Typical Thursday night. Jennifer is having fun. We get a half. Hang out with Shelly, Lisa, Nikki. I wander up to Showdown, Mojo's. Back to the Hole. Play pool. Talk to Chip. More drugs. Have to get up at 7:30 am to take all the stuff to UPS and Central with Justin. More beer. More drugs. Web gives Jennifer $80. Jennifer finds $10 on a pool talble. Gives it to Tara. Jennifer finds $40. Gives half to Debbie. Head over to Nasty's. Beer. Back home. Drugs and BBEdit. 7:30 am looming on the horizon. Jennifer out in garage smoking, listening to tapes, writing letters. Call Justin at Mojo's and arrange to move take the Book Festival books Central and UPS later in the afternoon. Jennifer comes in from the garage, wired and wierd, wanting to engage. I try to go to sleep. Sometime, I do. 


16 - Fri - Wake around 1:00 pm. Hung over it all. Page Justin. Wait. Take a few asprin. Crawl back in bed. Crawl out of bed about 1:45. Dress. Page Justin again. No call back. Decide to go it myself. Drive truck over to warehouse. Load it up by 4:30. Take it out to Central. Unload and get it set up on pallets, wrapped and tagged by 6:00. Just in time. Over to UPS. 36 boxes to process in an hour. They close at 7:00. I'm out of there right at 7:00. Stop by Showdown to find Jennifer. See Michel. Says Justin missed the page. Go home. Talk to Jennifer on phone. She's setting up a wedding reception in back. It's also the Hole's Xmas party and B-days for Debbie and Jeff. I stay in, work on Chronos and BoneCarver. My mother calls, irritates me by her lack of congratualtions and implied guilt about a ruined Xmas tree. Jerry is happy. Write some more. Stop at 2:00 am. Watch Ken Burns' Lewis and Clark documentary. Drink Shiraz. Jennifer shows up around 3:30. Drunk and waster. Wants to go back to Mojo's, see Eman, Michel, drink beer/ coffee. I don't want to stay. We go. They all leave to go put posters of Hitler in Khakis on the GAP. I drive home. Watch more L&C. Jennifer smokes and drinks in the car. Comes in, we argue. She cries. I spend a couple of hours engaged. Finally to sleep around 7:00 am.


17 - Sat - Wake at 4:00 pm. Hustle to unload rest of truck at Storeroom. Jennifer has to take a heater back. Agrees to meet me down at Ryder at 5:15. I make it there by 5:00. She arrives soon. Take her to work. Get double lattes at Mojo's. Walk down to Texadelphia for dinner alone. Come back home. Write. Shannon calls. We talk for an hour or so. Write more. Computer fucking up. Stop aroun 12:00 am. Head down to Showdown to help Jennifer. Her second to last night. Down to Showdown. Help to bus tables and wash dishes until 2:00 am. Stop by HEB on the way and buy some groceries. Come back and make nachos and quesadillas at the house. Sam's gone. Watch the rest of "Dick". Then start to watch "Wild, Wild, West" but it's too lame. I start to read a current issue of Discover. Asleep around 7:00 am. 


18 - Sun - Wake at 4:30 pm. Jennifer wakes me up this morning with a cup of au lait. Write for a while. Work on Chronos and Bone Carver. Jennifer goes to run errands. Agrees to work at the Hole for Don from 7-10pm. Calls me at 6:30 from the Hole. I tell her that I'll bike down to watch the Simpson's and Futurama. Jeff shows, so she is off. I drink a Bloody Mary. Then Dos Equis. Have a hamburger. Jennifer goes to run some errands. I stay. Read the paper. Talk to Mike White. Vernon and Angie show up. Drink more. Talk to Mike. Jennifer shows back up. Leaves. I ride the bike home. Jennifer arrives soon. Catch last call at the Hole. Back home. Write. Jennifer is wrapping Xmas presents. We watch "Taxi Driver". Jennifer goes to sleep. I stay up and play on the net. Write a little. 8:30 am now.


20 - Mon -


21 - Tue - Longview - Stay with Pilar and Shannon.


22 - Wed - Dallas - I'm sick. 


23 - Thu - Dallas - Mother goes into a diabetic coma.


24 - Fri - Dallas - 


25 - Sat - Dallas - Xmas - Jennifer, my Mother, Me and Angel are all sick.


26 - Sun - Return to Austin.


27 - Mon - Drink at the Hole in the Wall. Jennifer topless on the stage.


30 - Thu - Work at warehouse. No sign of Justin. Move 2 tons of freight. Jennifer works at Showdown. I stay in.


31 - Fri - Drive to South Padre Island. Stay at Sea Grape. Drink at the Irish Pub. Spend New Year's on the beach with the ocean and fireworks, a sixpack of tecate. Sparklers.






1998


April 3, 1998

Date: Fri, 3 Apr 1998 14:01:50 EST

To: bjones@fringeware.com

Subject: damn you all to hell!!

Scot -

You write: I see this as only the irritant which might be "encrusted" into something more pearlish. I would appreciate scathing critique, commentary, additions, in short, the radiance of your inimitable editorialship. I'm going to take you at your word, so please understand everything that follows to be a sign of my illimitable respect for you. I have not pulled any punches.

As an editor, I would reject this manifesto. The spirit of Scot Casey and his daemon, Bonesy Jones, are not sufficiently in evidence. Therefore, I would be placed in the uneviable position of editing people who are not present, whom my words cannot reach. Reading this was worlds removed from reading 'Allegorics of Killing', which used its diversionary tactics only in service of a more maniacal self revelation, which many people were strongly affected by. This document has no picture of Stalin by the cash register. This document does not drive its plow over the bones of the dead. This document slaughters no goats. In short, this document dispenses with Scot Casey entirely, and offers instead, an Utne Reader sidebar.

What I *will* do, happily, is act as your wrestling coach in the Bloomian showdown that seems to be taking place in the body of your document. Your originals, as I can discern them in the shadowy stones they lie within, are Peter Lamborn Wilson, Paul Krassner, Abby Hoffman, and Allen Ginsberg. The missing in action include Steiner, Stang, Stewart Brand, Turner, Nietzche and, most importantly (this is going to sound funny, but it's totally true) Charlton Heston. THERE IS NO CHARLTON HESTON IN THIS MANIFESTO!! Forgive me, friend, I say this only because you have eclipsed the better angels of your nature. In this document, Dr. Zeuss keeps a careful watch on the 'inner Tayor' and will not let him speak! You must tear off the jaw harness and address decadent ape civilization with the full force of your unrecontructed astronaut-manhood!! Bonesy and his representative Mr. Casey need an advocate for their interests, and this subject I will happily discuss with you at great length, in person. In this capacity, I am the friendly 'Cornelius', who believes in truth at all costs AND the sympthetic 'Zera' who will kiss you, willfully ignoring your status as a debased pink 'talking human'.

Considerations:

1) What needs are specific to our cultural moment? Does the document reflect what we do/ should be doing? I fear that its stance hardly even allows for the legitimate existence of a bookstore. There isn't even an 'access to tools and ideas' reference. Its politics are carried over from struggles begun in the sixties - and do not reflect what has been learned in the intervening time. "The status quo should always be challenged" Scot, you did NOT write that. That pitiable cliche, fossilized when you were still a newt, is suitable only for weaklings and resentful cowards. Here is the same sentence, recast into my best impersonation of Scot-langue: "The status-quo, like a muscle, must be CONSTANTLY broken down, that it might be made more capable." Maybe a reference to fitness-to-purpose? More Blut und Urde!! You must create sentences that CHEW LIMESTONE!! UUUUUUNNNNNGGGGHHHHHH!!! "The status quo must always be challenged". This is spoken from the standpoint of the victim, who understands nothing of the costs and shames of culture, and need to deligitimize the possibility of any authority except his own. WE question authority to gain knowledge and power. Where did all this girlie-boy talk come from?? My bonesy- module (and I must have one, else your dreams would be irrelevant to me) suggests Goethe instead: "and unfashioning the fashioned, lest it stiffen into iron, is a work of endless, vital activity". I have two other main question, which I bookmark as 'the nature of value' and 'the prolific and the devouring' but these we must discuss in person. Call me.

Excelsoir!

Jeff


February 1, 1998

Date: Sun, 1 Feb 1998 14:55:22 EST

To: bjones@fringeware.com

Subject: it is excellent to see perpetual agony and failure

Scot - I am consistently astonished by your ability to uncover authors of titanic learning and great insight, who, even after I study them, am convinced would never have crossed my path. Examples would include George Steiner, Edward Dahlberg, Charles Olsen, and that poor man you're usufructing online. I know that these are your authors, because after I heard about them from you, they still refuse to cross my path. I do not come across their names in anything I read, or notice their books jumping into my life by synchronistic means - all of which is quite the opposite of 'my' authors. Having come across their names ONCE, they jump out at me from shelves and websites and conversations in bewildering profusion until I have agreed to take them into my life. One reference to Plotinus, or G Wilson Knight, or Ibn Arabi, or Schiller, becomes a thousand references. They multiply and divide with abandon. There are even two authors that I *can't* read, because I'm too busy, and they continue to pester me like insect swarms: Francis Yeats and Denis de Rougement. There will be no rest, I know, until I read and absorb them.

I believe that, most of the time, life leads us to minds not just akin to our own, but very like what *we will become*. That said, I feel that the universe might have made a slip up. I think I've come across one of your authors by mistake, and so I seek here to return him to you. His name is Hillaire Belloc. I believe he is a French travel writer and possibly a historian from the early twentieth century; but I could be wrong. Details are left as an exercise for the Student. J ==========================

To study something of great age until one grows familar with it and almost to live in its time, is not merely to satisfy a curiosity or to establish aimless truths: it is rather to fulfil a function whose appetite has always rendered History a necessity. By the recovery of the Past, stuff and being are added to us; our lives which, lived in the present only, are a film or surface, take on body--are lifted into one dimension more. The soul is fed. Reverence and knowledge and security and the love of good land--all these are increased or given by the pursuit of this kind of learning. Visions or intuitions are confirmed. It is excellent to see perpetual agony and failure perpetually breeding the only enduring things; it is excellent to see the crimes we know ground under the slow wheels whose ponderous advance we can hardly note during the flash of one human life. One may say that historical learning grants men glimpses of life completed and whole; and such a vision should be the chief solace of whatever is mortal and cut off imperfectly from fulfilment.

Hillaire Belloc, The Old Road

1997



Travels with Pilar Blaske - London, Portugal, Spain & Morocco 1997
(Ascending Chronology)

From Picadilly to the Djema el Fna and Back


June 23 - Monday - Dallas/ London - Auguries in the rain. Water and memory. Concavities in the stone. Depart from Dallas in the afternoon. Getting wasted on demi-bottles of wine and shot bottles of Bailey's. Passing out somewhere bewteen New York and London. Waking up drenched in sweat, claustrophobic, nauseous. The stewardess, as much as we might protest otherwise, believes we are getting married on this trip. Gives us a bottle of champagne.


June 24 - Tuesday - London, England - Arrived hungover and jet-lagged. Tube to Picadilly Circus. A city that smells like Christmas. After some trouble, find a room at Millard's House in the Sussex Gardens area. Old Sweedish family management. Room down in the basement, wood paneled, near an ancient bathroom. Slept for a while then went for expensive Indian food nearby. Walked through Hyde Park.

Later, search for the Dog and Duck, end up at another nearby pub. Deep dark wood and neo-Victorian decor. Techo with R.E.M.. A few pints and back to the room. Watch bizarre British TV shows.


June 25 - Wednesday - London - Wake up early, read Perez-Reverte's Flanders's Panel. Surprisingly good English breakfast in the upstairs dining room. Coffee, juice, fried eggs, ham, stewed tomatoes, toast, baked beans. Outside, it's a typical grey and rainy London day. Almost cold. Took the Tube to Westminster Abbey. Walked amongst the bones of Kings, Queens and Poets. The Weight of Time makes you feel like a ghost. After the Abbey, walked around the Houses of Parliament. Down to the Tate. Amazing. Overwhelming. Blake's "Ghost of a Flea". John Martin's "Day of his Wrath". Wait's plaintive "Hope". A cup spilling over. Keiffer and the problem of asking the right questions about the presence and function of Art. Rothko and the gloom of the self being defied. No re-presentation. Immediate. In your face. Like a fist or a kiss. A single book, massive, heavily lined, emanating Mystery.

After the Tate, a quest for the perfect Fish and Chips. All over Covent Gardens. Settling finally on whatever came next. Ate it with vinegar and green peas. No greasy newspaper.

Later that evening, went to Filthy McNasty's Whisky Pub. Sweetly drunk n Castlemaine XXX lager. Wandering lost around the neighborhoods. Barely making it back to the Tube on time. Went to call Pilar's sister, pass a guy pissing in the bushes. Reeling drunk. Tells Pilar: "Yor fokin byooful." Laughter. Down in deep water.


June 26 - Thursday - London - Up early, reading Flander's. "The sentence I am now writing is the one you are now reading." Upstairs for breakfast. Silent effecient waitresses in maid outfits. Set out for the British Museum. Hard rainfall and thick crowds. Rosetta Stone as the physical symbol of language. Heiroglyphic to Heiropantic to Demotic. Images, spells and letters. The smiles of the Pharohs. Plunder of the Acropolis. Elgin Marbles and the Gnostic/ Romantic Trace. The museum effect. Lapiths and centaurs. Blake's "Illustrations for the Book of Job" in the stairway, almost incidental. Resonance of Job, Jonah and Jacob. Then the manuscripts. The Guttenberg Bible, Shakespeare, Keats, Shelley, Johnson. Diamond Sutra. Chinese books of bark. Mentally exhausted, leave and walk along with the masses in the rain. Into Soho, find a crowded place to eat good chiabatta sandwiches. Then back to the room to sleep off some last jet-lag. Pilar went out on her own to a nearby pub, experiencing a full dose of English reserve and alienation. I slept on through.


June 27 - Friday - London - Woke up at 4:30 am. Went upstairs to the lobby to finish The Flander's Panel. Pilar got up at 6:00. We went out for a paper. Came back for breakfast. Wrote for a while in the room. I went up to pay the old man for the last two nights, happily discovered that the room was cheaper than we had thought. Walked down Edgeware Road, stopping in at a Safeway for bread and cheese. Continued on to the Marble Arch, light rain falling. Pink roses all around. A momument to nothing.

Decided to go to the Victoria and Albert museum. Took the Tube. Overshot our stop and walked back through the neighborhoods. Stopped to look around an old cemetary. Checked email at an Internet Store on the way. Sent off a review with a few messages. V&A was better than I had remembered. The plaster cast room: with the Michelangelo and Donatello's Davids, Ghiberti's doors, entire cathedral entranceways and other monstrous replications. Had a cup of coffee in one of the exquisite Victorian rooms. Aferwards, we found a nearby comfortable pub and had a couple of satisfying pints.

Walked over to the National Science Museum. Notable differences between human artifacts of culture and natural artifacts of life. Returned to the room. Dinner of bread and cheese while watching bad British TV. Around 8:30 pm, went to Soho for a few pints at the Dog and Duck. Thick crowds. Picked up a couple of excellent kebabs on the way home and ate them in the room.


June 28 - Saturday - London/Lisbon, Portugal - Violent dreams redeemed by an inability to be harmed. An odd bird in the courtyard outside that sings the same sad notes. Heard it from the first night we were here. A strange and fragmented tune, sang over and over.

Breakfast. Same as it ever was. Go do laundry nearby. Return and give Mr. Millard (I presume), the old Sweede with missing teeth, our bottle of champagne. He is delighted, expansive. Must be the rare guest that gives a gift. Take the Tube to Victoria Station to catch the train to Gatwick. Time enough for a brief walk up to Buckingham Palace. Huge crowds to watch the changing of the guards. Japanese snapping and filming it all. Unimpressive to us. Barely make it to the plane on time. My mechanical pencil mystifies security for a while. Last two on board. Separate seats to Lisbon.

In Lisbon, a bus to the center of town. A differnt world. Bent old woman standing before a cart full of peaches, sounding out her pitch. Beggars holding out trembling hands. Beautiful dark men and women. A breeze from the sea. We find a room at a pensao in the Barrio Alto, Pensao Londres. A long and lovely walk up through the narrow mosaic tiled streets, wrought iron balconies waving with laundry and flowering plants. Up beside the Elevador da Gloria, past the port bars. A quarto for two nights. High ceilinged room with simple furnishings, a window opening to a ventillator shaft. Fragrance of freshly baked bread drifts up in the mornings. A bathroom in the hall with a giant tub, bidet and difficult toilet.

Down to the Baixa in a vain search for a currency exchange. Sangres Cerveja at Martinno da Arcada, famous watering hole of the writer Pessoa. I am exhausted for some reason. Around the winding streets to an inexpensive dinner at a family run place, Tasca do Manel. Little cash. We order the cheapest dishes. Pilar ended up with a decent fish pancake. I ended up with Peixe Espada, a plate piled high with fried sardines. Head accumulating on the side as I ate, staring at me with blank fish eyes. The proprieters coming by to make sure we liked everything. "There is soemthing wrong with the fish heads?" Joke.

Passed several pracas, plazas, with festivals going on. I was depressed for no definite reason. We stood atop Miradoro de Sao Pedro, watching fireworks explode over the city. Everything only made me more miserable and alienated. Some bizarre form of homesickness.


June 29 - Sunday - Lisbon - A good night's rest make all the difference. The vitality of the ocean's day: brightness in the blue skies, sweet breezes. Portugal. Elegant breakfast in a sunny white room. Black coffee, steamed milk, rolls and jam. Tall balcony windows opened white. A room full of light. All the time in the world.

Decide to head over to Belem. On the way: a one legged man crossing the road. Car stop for him to pass but he refuses. Some sort of superstition? Hops back to the side of the street. A primitive rambling Metro to the Rossio Train Station. Beggars everywhere. Huddles of rags with burned smoking hands emerging. It seems that most of the men walk with a limp. Short train ride to Belem. Walk out into the massive Praca Alfonso de Albuquerque in front of the Presidential residence. Pilar plays with an odd little Portuguese dog. On past a series of cafes and restaurants setting up for Sunday afternoon business. Up to the Mosteiro de Jeronimos. Impressive. Clusters of stone angels and saints. Made our way in at the conclusion of Mass. Tourists already inside posing with insipid grins before the tombs of Vasco de Gama and Camoes. Purity and danger. Made our way around the serene cloisters. Seemed like the interior square of a labyrinth. Worked out a communication breakdown between Pilar and I as a procession of priests walked be, censers swinging through the shadows, reminding me of the Monastery in the Desert.

Away from the crowds, we found a sidewalk cafe beside the Praca da Imperio. A sublime dinner there: Grilled sole, green beans, new potatoes, white wine and coffee. Delivered with grace and leisure. A little boy collected limes that had fallen from the nearby trees. Dogs chased soccer balls. High white clouds passed slowly over.

Down to the Parrao dos Descobrimentos. A sort of pseudo fascist chess piece of a monument to the Portuguese explorers. Further down the quay to the Torre de Belem - under restoration. Took the train back into Lisbon. Up the Elevador de Santa Justa, drinking cold Super Bocks above the city until evening, listening to the Gypsy Kings.Impressions: A one armed fisherman, a man with no teeth trying to sell me a gold ring, "Isth Ree", signs of the Secret Brotherhood.

Back to the room. Then we go write and drink beer in a small bar in the Praca do Principale Real. After, we stumble through the Barrio Alto looking for the perfect place to have dinner. Pilar finds an intimate out of the way place that is excellent. Later on, we walk laughing through the cobblestone streets, past the Fado bars, ending up at a festival in the Largo do Chiado. Drink more beer and watch the Portuguese families dance, sing, play.


June 30 - Monday - Lisbon - Wake up and breakfast. Take the train to Sintra this morning. Watching the vanishing point recede, sitting with my back to the train's direction. Pine and cedar covered hills, sandy soil. Images of East Texas. Pilar looking out the window, reflected in the glass.

Arrive in Sintra. Two arabian styled spires over the Palacio National. Lunch in a place recommended by my parents - who were just here: the Adega das Caves. Caters to tourists and the staff all speak impeccable English. But the food is still pretty good and not too expensive. Tour the Palacio. The white spires are above the massive kitchen. An impressive chapel. Doves painted on the walls. And the Sala das Pegas, the "magpie room". Magpies holding scrolls with the words "Por Bem" (In Honor) in their beaks. Images of lost bets.

Take the steep climb up to the Castelo dos Mouros, a ruined castle presiding over the city. Through a wooden turnstile, up the well worn switchback path. Mossy boulders, richly wooded coves, ivy covered caves. Near the lower entrance to the castle, a man plaaying a flute. Freestanding archways and crumbled walls echoing. Up along the walls overlooking the city and most of the landscape all the way to the sea. Eating chocolate, drinkng water. A cutting wind. Wildflowers like stars upon the stone. Wonderings about the ancient watchmen. What ruins us? The flute song floating mysteriously. Vines and roots separate the stones like laughter.

Back down to Sintra and the train back to Lisbon. 235 steps back to our room. Restored by a bath. Go to a Chinese Restaurant that we have passed several times, Han's. Chicken on an iron sheet. Burning and sputtering with oil. Chicken curry. The best chinese food I have ever had.

Later, up past our pensao to the Praca do Principe Real, stopping into a local place for a glass of port. Obligatory. Beer under the florescent lights and dark trees.


July 1 - Tuesday - Lisbon - Check out. Down to the station and buy tickets to Faro, a city in the South. Metro up to the Museu Clouste Gulbenkian. Tremendous elegance. Subtle lighting, placement and balance of presentation. Woodblock prints of Sagakumo. Turner's "Wreck of the Minotaur". Rembrandts. Rodins. A roomful of Lalique. The mystery of Gulbenkian.

Down to the Prace do Comercio. Catch a ferry to Barreiro, across the Rio Tejo. Poetic departure. Watching Lisbon spread out upon the waters. From Barreiro, the train to Faro. Rolling hills replete with olive, orange and lemon trees. Vineyards cropping out here and there.

At the station in Faro, a persistent Armenian man, Paul, offered us a place to stay. The usual haggling and we end up heading to the Hotel Marim. He drives us over, talking on and on about Texas and the US and Portugal. A clean and viewless room. We settle in then head over to a nearby Supermarket to get preparations for sandwiches. Lunched at a charming diner, the Cafe Sev, drank beer and wrote. A walk around the simple city. Stopping to peer through the gates of an atmospheric above ground cemetary.

Pilar made sandwiches in the room. Salami, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, mustard on excellent bread. Later, we discovered a place called the Kook's Bar, american styled, playing disco and rap. I ask for two glasses of sangres (blood) instead of Sagres, the beer. Stayed until 10:30 pm. Pleasantly inebriated. Forgot my jacket and had to run back.


July 2 - Wednesday - Faro, Portugal/ Seville, Spain - - 


July 3 - Seville, Spain. 


July 4 - Seville - 


July 5 - Tarifa, Spain. - 


July 6 - Tarifa - 


July 7 - Asilah, Morocco - 


July 8 - Asilah - 


July 9 - Rabat - 


July 10- Rabat - 


July 11- Marrakesh - 


July 12 - Marrakesh - 


July 13 - Asilah - 


July 14 - Algeciras, Spain - 


July 15 - Granada - 


July 16 - Granada - 


July 17 - Granada - 


July 18 - Madrid - 


July 19 - Madrid - 


July 20 - Madrid - 


July 21 - Barcelona - 


July 22 - Barcelona - 


July 23 - Barcelona - 


July 24 - Barcelona/ London/ New York - 


July 25 - New York/ Dallas - 


July 26 - Dallas/ Austin


1996


1995

January 20, 1995

§ Taken Down by the Bone §

This shit is going to kill me.
If it hasn't already. The fact that
1.) I am here and 2.) lucid
leades me to believe that all
reprots of the death of B.Jones,
yours truly, were false. (So far)

Things to do:

1. The Mont Blanc Story

2. The Elements of Style Story:
looking at a beetle on my back porch
wondering what I am
going to do with
the rest of my life
and wondering about the
grammar.
Re: N: as long as we still have 
grammar, we still have god.
3. Essay / Story: first machine
was a mirror.
see notes.
4. Emperor of Ice Cream // B. Jones
Who is God?
see notes.
What is it to suddenly
become suspicious of yourself?
Here is the motivation.

5. Proposal to realworld for
equivalent for printed
matter: Bone Books.
6. # of big jokes pulled on
human species.
comparison to anxiety of insecurities.
worry/pro security/con
Men: -
Women:  + -
-squeezed by reality into either/or
saying something of keeping our
mouths shut
7. Rough draft of a suicide
letter. see notes.
8. Whatever my deteriorating
mind forgot:   see



1994


July 4, 1994

LSD, Hendrix, Heidegger & Shiner Bock

[From the back of the Blue Notebook: Bone Collector]
1994 - July 4 - [Four hits of Acid. In the back of Europa on the Drag - in the old Yaring's stockroom. Cinderblock and wood shelves, a small desk and a cooler of beer. The Store is closed.]
In human understandings of evolution
The Individual vs. The Collective
Vertebrates - Ex-vertebrates
Interior Skeleton - Exoskeleton

Technology as a manifestation
of the group mind. "The Colony"
What is disconcerting     "The Hive"
about machines is These are
how insect-like they are    our terms
but they are getting
better at imitating
the flesh of lips
instead of shivering mandibles.
Ha.

We must rebel against the change which
is happening on the infrastructure.

The profound changes = skeletal thoughts
And what seems hell "satanic" is that
which is adverserial to our intents.
I "war" with myself.
God vs. Satan.
But w/o this primal conflict
the will dissipates away
from the vortex
which is pure ecstasy
and bliss and all
of Being's being to experience.

My Demon Ness
This demonic state of mind
that takes so much to quench
the thirst of.
(Fighting my words in this spiraled
form.)
But... as good as any
Stories of the gods - what does this mean?
Hindu - Buddhist Judaic - Christian
Isalm - Sufi
* This Mind is Slipping *
My Demon - ness
Devil-Babe
Great Goddess
Mom
Om
mm om mm om
And me... who am I
without you?
Ha. Ah Ha Ha.
I am in love with what
could only be called an
interiorized image of a
thing never fulfilled
by a thing over-abudant,
this continual infolding
of time + space into
this thing that has no
name but has
to be described here
onyl as a cortex,
a swirling mass of
impossible energy
and complexity,
using time itself,
like a fractal
of a fractal or
that black source
space in the center
that is a dragon
of better, called
a demon.
And I created her piece by piece.
And she now defies all 
humanity.
And me.
This game of mirrors always
depending upon one being off-center.
(Listen though, both of you, to how the insects have
inflitrated your thinking, how they hunger to
eat any flesh you might form.)

Remember, this same thing
killed Dylan Thomas.
We only brand ourselves
tattoo, mark,
name
ourselves in memory
this, whatever the symbol is, it isn't.
it has already passed, past.
My only friend is Heidegger.

Idea: Story about how much of a 
hell it is to be
incarnated into a
particular human body.
July 4, 1994 33rd anniv.
of my conception
at Europa on Acid and Shiner Bock
listening to Jimi Hendrix's "Blues"
and reading Heidegger
Very Happy.
Poetry, Lang, Thought. pg. 191


I am still waiting for an apocalyptic
angel with a key to
this abyss.


Fuck...

"If I were as eloquent as
Demosthenes I would yet have
to do nothing more than repeat
a single word three times:
Reason is Language: LOGOS.
I gnaw at the marrow-bone
and will gnaw myself to death
over it. There still remains
a darkness, always, over
this depth for me; I am
still waiting for an
apocalyptic angel with a
key to this abyss."
- Hamann to Herder
  8.10.1784

  
This angel is the Bone Carver.

"What are poets for?" gives
me mental orgasms.
God, yes, I have sinned
I have drunk deep of
both men and women.
Idea: Heidegger on Acid.
We are now firmly
withing the
"World's Night."   93
*** The traces leading back
in are lost --- ***

Foosteps walking backwards
After trying, unsuccessfully to get on the roof of Europa, I managed to ride my bike down towards Town Lake. I stood with the crowds on the Congress St. bridge, the LSD coming on very strong in reaction to all the people. Just in front of me was a tree, tall enough to rise almost to the bridge. Suddenly the initial cannon went off. And the tree just exploded with birds, shocked from their roost. I gasped and started laughing. Seemed almost like the whole show to me. Then came fireworks. Almost overwhelming, tracers and LSD visual snakes everywhere. I had a great great time. Later on, wandered over to Lavaca. Then up to the Hole and back to Europa.



February 28, 1994

LSD in Europa After Hours


The primordial mystery: a man laughing at a stone
he has washed in a river. 

The stone has a carving on it, a heiroglyph:

What it the connection between
Salgado's Workers and
the Indian Saddhus?
Between the particular and the whole?
This moment and the transcendent?
What do you live for?
The only true service
The only authentic work
is one under 
anonymity
in a place of no reward
outside of history
of the redemptions
of time
which ultimately
are religious
and pleasures of
god.
What is authentic?
Here is a question
Heidegger had to ask
again & again.

How are you being?

How is it possible to
make a poetic statement
in such a lost apocalyptic
age?
What is it that lasts?
To the last?
Truly?
Who do you eventually stand for?

Who do you eventually stand for?

What?
A title? A phase?
A tune?
Or an idea.
Who did Plato stand for?
Who did Christ/ Judas stand for?
Who did Faust/ Goethe stand for?
Who did Hamlet/ Shakespeare stand for?

[ scribbles on page ]

Isit alone now.
only satisfied
with a good
dictionary.

That I should be
as Salgado has imagined...
and Burkert [???] hs worded...
That I should be as
Salgado has photographed
and Burkert has written
***
Slowly, slowly,
I come around to the
awareness that 
closer I come to god,
the closer I go
to death.
A vision, while Uncle Tupelo is
playing, that the only
possible aesthetic is
one of death,
not just of death,
but of doom.
Only the Aesthetic of Doom
will grant delverance
from this world.
Assume: death, starvation,
bones, murder, sickness, bones,
death, old age, sickness...
assume all of this
inside
The Machine of
the 20th Cen.
And only the Aesthetic of Death
is valid?
Faulkner asked: what will our
poets write about after
the bomb?
This, William, this.
Drink up. And die quickly.
Adorno's question is ours?

Poetry is barbaric
in the face of such impossible
existence.

Rilke was the last pure
poet in this sense.
***
Faulkner's question is ours.

Cynicism = False Enlightenment
Acknowleded
Now What?
The temperature is increasing.
I feel bubbles in my bones
Go Pop.
Bubbles in my bones go
Pop!
Only the skull
seems to know
of the eyes
lonliness -
And if I couldn't stand higher
than these shelves of philosophy
I would end my life
here and now
instead of
making the moment
of my [horror/honor] my [reb???]
So many have died
before me.
So much blood.
and yet...
I am no one.
What is this for?
I want to write to
Salgado and
ask him this
question.
***
Kierkegaard's piece of worn out
jade -
carved with an emblem of
poetry
being used as a 
dildo = 20th Century Consc.
Take my picture off the wall.
Take my picture off the wall.

Really thought it would matter.

Really though it would matter.
What the hell were we thinking?
Before the fire
burned out?
[Ink splotches on page. Scirbbles.]

Show me
Ink


[Cut myself three times on my chest. Wrote letter in ink/blook to Mysti. Card with Uncle Tupelo "Halls of Shame" lyrics to Bill.]


1993


January 8, 1993

Tower of Babel dream: I don't seem to be in a deep dream state. There were points where I 'felt' as if I were awake and thinking in an ordinary fashion. I was considering landscape painting, especially that of the Chinese, which used negative space in a positive way. I was wondering about specific examples in Western Art and struck upon Leonardo's Mona Lisa - the background. The phrase, "The world behind the Mona Lisa", resonated in my mind. I saw the painting before me then, but with an added dimension of reality. The Lady was rather ghostly but the landscape beyond her was alive. I imagined Leonardo working on the painting. I saw the canvas set up before the window. I looked out the window from Leonardo's eyes. The entire landscape had been painted first. The image of the Lady was to be superimposed over it. At times, her phantom image appeared in its place. Then I stood at the window, the opening, and looked out at the world beyond, fascinated by its mystery. It was then that I realized that her head in the painting obscured an enormous river. I was amazed that the river could be so vast and hidden. I studied this for a while and then lifted my gaze to see an enormous tower. At first I doubted my eyes. Cathedrals were dwarfed by it. Even the river, which flowed close around it, was only a tiny stream beside it. I then realized that it was the Tower of Babel. The construction was enormous. massive organic gothic openings, roads and winding pathways. It has not even begun to taper inwards and yet it already brushed the clouds. For a long time, it seemed, I studied it, wondering if I could draw it, if I could ever hope to capture its scale.

1992

August 1992

30 - Mon - Arrive Santa Fe, New Mexico

31 - Tue - High Road to Taos

September 1992

1 - Wed - Santa Fe, New Mexico - 

- Shelton is separated from Debbie. Dating Anne. Living at Courtney and Jackie's - in the architecture studio beside the house. Debbie is working at Eddie Bauer and going insane. I am staying with her, at the place on Gomez while I am in Santa Fe.


2 - Thu - Santa Fe, New Mexico - Spent the morning with Shelton at a good place called the Aztec Cafe. Walked with him over to where he works, Caxton's Bookstore. Wandered around Santa Fe.


4 - Fri - Santa Fe, New Mexico - Reading Dick's Divine Invasion. Out to Tent Rocks with Debbie, Jackie and Jackson. 


5 - Sat - Santa Fe, New Mexico - Phone calls in the middle of the night from Pilar, hysterical over Leta's infidelities with Scott. Walking along the river path with Shelton, talking of bones and blood. Every poem must end.


6 - Sun - Santa Fe, New Mexico - Aztec Cafe in the early morning. Reading Sexual Personae. Fiesta time in the city. Finding sanctuary in the St. Francis Cathedral. Discover Novalis' Hymn to the Night.


7 - Mon - Santa Fe, New Mexico - Aztec Cafe in the afternoon. Open doorways framing distant mountains. 


8 - Tue - Santa Fe, New Mexico - Shelton and I went to see Bergman's "Good Intentions". A surrender on the part of the priest was disappointing. 


11 - Fri - Santa Fe, New Mexico - Zozobra Burning Man Fiesta 12 - Sat - Santa Fe, New Mexico - Went to Bandelier. Fear seeps out of the stones. 


12 - 

From a letter to Pilar Blaske in "Portrait of a Fool Notebook: 1992":

There is a full moon over Santa Fe tonight, the 12th of September. I am sitting in a Quackenbush type coffee house called the Aztec Cafe. Before me is an open window letting in the burning fragrances of pinon and juniper and sage. Regardless of what Santa Fe is or isn't, it is surrounded by the mystery of the desert. Upon the edges of the city, in the margins, along the borders, something of the truth of this place emerges. [...]

Last night was the beginning of a Fiesta here, sort of a celebration of the cities independence. The whole weekend is one long party. It starts off by the ritual burning of a huge effigy known as Zozobra, Old Man Gloom. While the masses (60,000 people) milled about oohing and ahhing at the fireworks, I stood silent and detached wondering if it all really meant anything to them. It seemed they had all become disconnected from the origin of the burning, from the pagan rythms of sacrifice and ecstasy. They are spectators to the universe, watching themselves grow old on TV, looking for meaning in all the wrong places.[...]


13 - Sun - Santa Fe, New Mexico - Comment that one of the reasons I left Austin was the murder of the four girls at the Yogurt Shop. And that Jorge, the doorman at the Hole in the Wall was shot in face. 


16 - Wed - Santa Fe, New Mexico - My internal compass of being, my spiritual integrity, is thrown off "true" by events that occur around me - events that reflect the evil, the horror, of conscious existence.


20 - Sun - Santa Fe, New Mexico - Walking around the city in a haze. Reading Holy Madness. 
"Those who voyage are not saved."


24 - Thu - The Monastery of Christ in the Desert - 11:20 pm - Finally at the Monastery - where I should have been long ago. 


25 - Fri - The Monastery of Christ in the Desert


26 - Sat - Up in the Hills above the Monastery - 


27 - Sun - Back at the Monastery - With a room.


October 1992


1 - Thu - Santa Fe - Got a ride out of the Monastery with two women from California. On the way, we stopped to see the vandalized Morada of the Penetentes in Abiquiu, a small gallery (Magpie Woman), the Ghost Ranch, the Sanctuario de Chimayo and at lunch in Espanola at Matilda's.


4 - Sun - Santa Fe - Gaelle comes in. Take Debbie's car to Albuquerque to pick her up. 


5 - Mon - Take Gaelle to Santuario de Chimayo. Rio Grande Gorge.


6 - Tue - Tsankawi and Bandelier with Gaelle.


7 - Wed - Leave Santa Fe. Return to Dallas with Gaelle.


8 - Thu - Dallas - 


9 - Fri - 


10 - Sat - Parents return from a trip??? Meet Gaelle. 


1991


1990


September 4, 1990 - First Meet Charles B. Jones at Les Amis in Austin, Texas.



1989


April 5, 1989

Letter from from LM

Pilar -

I hope you don't think I've blown this whole situation off. I just thought that you might need a little time to yourself without me. I know you hate me now & you have every right to. There's nothing I can say or do that will make you forgive me, but I wanted to at least try or just say goodbye for the last time. We've been too good of friends to just end it like this without saying something.

I don't know what Scott has told you. I'm hoping the truth. And I hope what I have to say won't make things worse. Pilar, I had no intention to hurt you. First of all, since I've been around you & Scott, y'all have introduced me to a new way of thinking about life & sex. Nobody could possible understand what the three of us have been doing & the close relationship we've developed. I, for one, don't even really understand why we all have sex, but I've thought about it alot & have tried to make myself believe that it is O.K. I've thought of all the reasons why we should & after I began believing it. I began to ask myself why everybody doesn't do it. I've basically put other people down & thought of them as insecure and not living life to its fullest. This is a whole new way of thinking for me and I must admit I'm a little confused. It's kind of like I stepped into another world & all of it's beliefs are surrounding me & I'm having a blast trying to soak them in. Even though I may not believe in sex how y'all think of it I believe in the closeness we three seemed to share. I'm forcing myself to believe it. I'm trying to let you know how I think & what is going on inside my head, Now, I'll tell you the story.



1988



1988



1987


June 11 - Thursday - Drive the Camaro down to So. Padre to see my father, who I haven't seen in over 10 years. Turtles cross the road. The empty beach. Father is working at a local's place called Jake's. Meet Bhookie, Nikki, Judi, Jake. Go to Coral Reef. Talk late into the night about a war.

"His father was not a god born upon the stone, carved with lightning into signs of meaning and truth. His father was a man, in many ways a lonely and forgotten man - forgotten to himself and to the world."


June 12 - Friday - So. Padre. Car stuck on beach. Kid with long blonde hair and a tow truck, lived in an old truck in the dunes, gets me out. Drins and drugs. Writings and songs with the Old Man as witness.


June 13 - Saturday - Work at Jake's. Bar Poetics and Politics. Papa John buys the shots. A pile of cocaine like a pound of flour. Fill up my entire head with the powder. Officer's Club and all the women around him.


June 14 - Sunday - A Rainy Island day. Bowling. Beat him with three strikes. Mighty Casey. Sit around Jake's. Coral Reef with Judi. God and Meaning and Insanity on the Beach. Stay at Judi's.


June 15 - Monday - Go to Mexico with Judi and Nikki. The Border. Blanca White's Bar.


June 16 - Tuesday - At the end with nothing really discovered. Return.


June 17 - Wednesday - Leave So. Padre. Drive to Austin. Use 20 qts of oil. Lisa and the dogs. The old life is over.


June 28 - Drive out of Dallas at 2:00 am with Andrew Foote. Carlsbad at dawn. Red earth. Smell of sad flesh. Living earth. Descend into the Unconsciousness.


June 29 - Read The Odyssey and write all night in a Denny's in Alamogordo. On the hood of the Camaro at White Sands, listening to Neil Young's Rust Never Sleeps: Thrasher. UFOs. Conversations about the stars. Sleep. Into the park at 8:00 am. Albuquerque truck stops to shower. Windstorm. Waste Land. Santa Fe plaza. More disgust with humans. Drive out to Rio Grande Gorge. Camp on other side. Skulls and old cars.


June 30 - Taos. St Francis. Sacred Heart Pornography of the Divine. Spend some time trying to find the way to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. Lost in the Wilderness. Down the red road. Arrive around 5:30 pm. Find a place to stay.


July 1 - attend all of the Holy Offices. The Eucharist Experience. Confronting the Primal Sacred. Pulling weeds in the Desert. Br. John and Pascal.


July 2 - Arrange to return in November. Drive out to Chaco Canyon. House of Dawn. Durango. Trishia and the kids. Mesa Verde. Sleep in car in parking lot.


July 3 - Mesa Verde. Back to Durango.

- Money and food. Up La Plate far away from humanity. Up to Taylor Lake.


July 4 - Up over the pass. Down giant boulders. Explore Bear Creek. See herd of Elk. Smoke in the trees like ghosts.


July 5 - Back to Durango. On to Aspen. Late night writing in the Red Onion and various park benches. Sleep in nice neighborhood in car.


July 6 - Shower at public pool. Snowmass monastery. Pass it up and head into Utah. Cisco Ghost town. Nuclear Waste Land. Moab Mexican food. Arches. The Desert again. Salinas. Slept in City Park.


July 7 - Zion. Wash hair in the water. Then Vegas. Memories of Paris, Texas. Circus Circus slots. Get thrown out of Caesar's Palace. Imperials at the Dunes and get drunk.


July 8 - Police wake us up and make us leave the Circus Circus parking lot. Drive across the Mohave in the heat of day with no a/c. Santa Barbara and Staci and David.


July 9 - Santa Barbara. Dog memories. Guitar with Dave. Pot and coffee.


July 10 - Up Hwy 1 to Monterey. Jesus hitching where there is no where to pull off. Sleep in the wharf.Cannery Row.


July 11 - Escape town early. Surfers. San Francisco. City Lights, Lyle Tuttle's tattoos, young meat at the bus station, beat. The hate of Haight. Into Palo Alto and burn in a coffee shop.


July 12 Walk around Stanford. Write in Univeristy Creamery. Yosemite. Full. Over to Tioga.


July 13 - Little Yosemite Valley and Half Dome. No water. Merced Lake: emerald but undrinkable. Hike back down. TURNING POINT. Lay down the burden. Sunset and waterfalls and as much as I could drink. Sitting on the bridge below Vernal Falls. Everything coming together.


July 14 - Climb up to the top of Half Dome.


July 15 - Back to Staci and David's in Santa Barbara. Isla Vista. Laughing all the time. Horses on the beach.


July 16 - L.A. Venice Beach. Venus on sidewalk. Underside of California. A scene in the bathroom. Rodeo Drive and Sunset and Fuck Bars. Universal Studios. Fleetwood Mac. Summit Inn at top of the pass. The Fortune Telling Machine. Devil. Neon in the fog. Over the pass and into the stardust desert glowing cactus cartoon. Listening to nothing but myself.


July 17 - Morning hours in a grove of evergreens. Fix alternator at Navaho Auto Parts Store. Durango in the evening. Hitchhikers and conversations into the late night.


July 18 - Durango. Farmington. Drunk on wine. Long talks with Trishia.


July 19 - Numb from the road: "The Highway Mind". IHOP in Amarillo. Dallas.


1986